With well-developed characters, an identifiable score, and all-around confident direction, Only Lovers Left Alive is a welcome addition to an overdone genre.
Not least because it is different. Here the characters’ vampirism isn’t the focus; their humanity is.
And, at their core, they are human. World weary and very, very old, but still subject to the same fits of optimism, dejectedness or opportunism that plagues most human beings.
Therein is why Only Lovers Left Alive resonates with thematic truth. We understand, even empathize with these characters, and so they show us parts of the human condition.
Director Jim Jarmusch’s screenplay is similarly strong in other areas. He paces the film well, continually building his characters through new scenes.
His dialogue is insightful and clever.
He develops secondary characters well.
And he never lets Only Lovers Left Alive become didactic.
His actors help him. Tom Hiddleston (Adam) and Tilda Swinton (Eve) are note-perfect.
Mia Wasikowska (Ava), John Hurt (Kit Marlowe), Jeffrey Wright (Dr. Watson) and Anton Yelchin (Ian) are almost as good.
Jarmusch’s camera angels are always impeccably selected. For instance, his many gods-eye images help foster the sense of mature ennui that fuels the project.
And Only Lovers Left Alive‘s score is very good. Its primary notes, which serve a narrative purpose, are repeated enough to produce an aura of contemplativeness, but not so often that they become repetitive.
All of which is to say that this feature is very good.
Nevermind that it lacks a punch of exceptionalism. Neither Jarmusch’s screenplay, nor his direction, nor the performances, nor the visuals, nor the audio, nor anything else stand out as being great.
Everything is merely very good. Which is, in its own right, praise-worthy.