‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ Turn Detroit into a Sizzling Vampire Romance

It’s Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as you’ve never seen them before. They look like the coolest, hippest rock and roll couple ever in Jim Jarmusch’s new film, “Only Lovers Left Alive.”

And here’s a chuckle in this romantic tale. Their names are Adam and Eve.

Yes, that’s a biblical reference and it’s amazing what long hair will do to visually represent the timelessness of love. In this case, Swinton sports waist length, platinum-y locks while Hiddleston has the shaggy long dark-haired British rock star thing going on. And they’re often seen rocking some ultra cool shades, indoors of course, as in “I wear my sunglasses at night.”

There’s a really good reason for that, as viewers soon discover as the goth-style, musically influenced cinematography unfolds. These two are vampires that have been a passionate couple  for countless centuries but somehow have become separated, apparently due to their individual artistic pursuits. For him, it’s music. For her, apparently living life to the fullest.

Without revealing many spoilers, they are reunited in Detroit, where Hiddleston’s character lives in a creaky old house in what looks like a largely abandoned neighborhood, where male groupies–seen through a security camera– often congregate to get a look at the reclusive rock star.

You never know what’s coming next as several supporting characters are introduced into this creepy yet strangely enticing, erotic locale, including a connected music scene dude, Ian, played by Anton Yelchin, who procures rare guitars and seems to be the main connection to the outside world.

Adam himself seems to only venture out of his vamp-mansion to get his drug of choice from a helpful doctor (Jeffrey Wright) at a local hospital.

But when Eve comes to town, traveling from her home in Tangier, where she makes similar nocturnal forays, Adam gets pulled out of his comfort zone.

Things get especially off track when Eve’s younger sister, Ava, (Mia Wasikowska) makes an unwanted appearance and after creating a series of nuisances, commits a crime that needs to be covered up by her elders.

Jarmusch has said he finds romantic appeal in desolate and postindustrial landscapes, and Detroit is filled with them. Tangier, Morocco also swirls with moody mystery in a much livelier environment where another supporting character, John Hurt as a witty, erudite Christopher Marlowe holds court.

The music, the moods, the unexpected humor, the romance, the costumes all blended together to make this one of the most thrilling and evocative films seen in recent years.

–Hillary Atkin

From Despair to Elation: A Love Triangle in The Deep Blue Sea

You might call it the anti-”Hunger Games.” Opening on March 23 in New York and Los Angeles, ” The Deep Blue Sea ” is set in England in the torn and tattered aftermath of World War II, and stars Rachel Weisz as a woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a judge, but who finds passion with a former fighter pilot.

 

The film is directed by Terence Davies and adapted by him from a 1952 play by Terence Ratigan, regarded as the late playwright’ s finest achievement, a story about a woman who risks everything for the man she loves, a man who is not fully able to reciprocate her love. As it examines the unreliable nature of love and how it is sometimes impossible to explain in terms of logic, it’s also a painful and uncompromising study of the fear of loneliness.

 

Weisz plays Hester Collyer, whom we first meet in a seedy apartment that she shares with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), a handsome and charismatic ex-RAF pilot that she began an adulterous and highly erotic affair with, deciding to leave her stiffly upper-class husband, Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale), a prominent attorney.

 

That journey sets her on a roller coaster of emotions, whose roots are unacceptable in the society of the time and result in feelings ranging from deep depression to orgasmic elation. In those days, women did not leave their husbands, and although Hester is ultimately very conventional, following her heart to a dingy apartment is an act of courage – and a quest for personal freedom.

 

The adaptation is told entirely from Hester’s point of view, and Davies says he was inspired by women’s pictures of the 1940s and 50s, starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, that he grew up watching.

 

He added in some characters, like her disapproving mother-in-law–seen in flashback, beefed up others, as well as added some scenes that were not in the play, including a rousing group sing along in a pub.

 

The love triangle—for Collyer is not letting his wife go without a fight– results in undesirable situations that create deep dilemmas that inspired the title from the phrase “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” equivalent to being between a rock and a hard place.

 

We spoke with director and screenwriter Davies about his latest film.

 

TAR: What were the challenges of adapting this play for the big screen?

Davies: It’s the same as adapting a novel, not just getting the story but the tone of the piece. The first act of the play is exposition, but in the film you can show how she came to want to kill herself. You can open out and illustrate cultural differences.

TAR: Do you feel that modern audiences can relate to the social and class restrictions of the time you are depicting?

Davies: I think people get it within the first two minutes. If you do, then you believe that world. You see the world and you believe, you will accept what seems to be implied. As a filmmaker, you make sure this is the world and this is how it’s perceived.

Visually, once you knew what you want, you have long discussions with the costume designer, then do tests to get the look you have to illustrate.

TAR: Tell us about the emotional landscape of “The Deep Blue Sea.”

Davies: I tried to make it true to the play. With any play there’s a specific landscape, perhaps. In this, it’s a ménage a trios, with unrequited love. Each wants a love from the other they can’t give, true love.

TAR: You said you really weren’t familiar with Weisz before casting her in this film. What was it like working with her?

Davies: She was just luminous, and an absolute joy, as was all the cast. We shot the entire film in 25 days, and I couldn’t have done it without them.

TAR: How difficult was it to find your Freddie?

Davies: We saw a lot of young lads, and I was getting worried. Tom came in and we started the audition and it was clear that he was Freddie, after all the other main characters had been cast. 

Davies’ signature style includes beautiful tracking shots as well as the use of popular music of the day including Samuel Barber’s majestic Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. Op. 14. Besides his two acclaimed semi-autobiographical features Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes, Davies’ films include The House of Mirth, The Neon Bible, and Of Time and the City, his masterful nonfiction exploration of his native city, Liverpool.

The film is rated R and runs 98 minutes.