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updated: 4/17/2014 11:49 AM

'Left Alive' a deliberate, focused vampire affair

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  • Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play bohemian vampires stuck in depressed Detroit in Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive."

    Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play bohemian vampires stuck in depressed Detroit in Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive."


At some point in "Only Lovers Left Alive" -- indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch's chilled take on the vampire genre -- the constant, overt comparisons of drug addiction and blood food become obvious and slightly tiresome.

The inventive twist on the undead immortals is that reclusive rock musician Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and his cosmopolitan wife Eve (Tilda Swinton) remain madly in love after centuries of cautious survival.

Hiddleston and Swinton are stellar as the well-seasoned vampire couple who deliver smart, sophisticated dialogue, and know so much about each other that they complete each other's thoughts.

Unlike creatures of sheer evil in horror movies, these denizens of the dark celebrate fun things such as music and dancing.

Trouble arrives in Adam and Eve's relative paradise when Eve's fun-loving vampire sis Ava (Mia Wasikowska) crashes their Detroit pad, looking for action in the economically depressed municipality.

This character feels strained and artificial, especially for a centuries-old vampire who still thinks and acts as an adolescent. (Even Kirsten Dunst's bloodsucking child in "Interview With the Vampire" developed an ancient soul.)

Early on, the slightly suicidal Adam instructs his human agent (Anton Yelchin) to secure him a .38 caliber wooden bullet for his gun, which then goes unused for the rest of the story. That's a violation of the Hollywood foreshadowing rule, but then, this is a Jim Jarmusch movie.

Meanwhile, John Hurt makes the most of his clipped role as vampire playwright Christopher Marlowe -- apparently the real author of those works by Shakespeare.

"Only Lovers Left Alive" opens at the Century Centre in Chicago and the Evanston Century 18. Rated R for language and nudity. 124 minutes. ★ ★

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