The cast of Only Lovers Left Alive

Film Advent Calendar: Incredible music and acting chemistry makes Only Lovers Left Alive the perfect romantic drama

  • Chemistry between Hiddleston and Swinton makes relationship feel real and raw
  • Soundtrack by director's band is one of the all-time best in film
  • December 16th on NQ editor Matt Hartless's advent calendar of films you should watch this Christmas

Jim Jarmusch describes his filmmaking method as rather like that of a music composer. With this film, I can understand what he means.

The music, created by Jarmusch’s band, is powerful, emotional and experimental and you get the feeling from having watched the film you have listened to an album as well.

Only Lovers Left Alive is a 2013 romantic drama written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and John Hurt.

The film centres around a community of immortal vampires, somewhat adjusted to modern society despite having been alive for hundreds of years. Adam (Hiddleston) is having something of a mid-life crisis and is incredibly depressed and Eve (Swinton) is struggling to help him. At the same time, their friend Christopher Marlowe (Hurt) is dying because modern humans are unwittingly poisoning their blood, making edible blood difficult to find.

Scene from Only Lovers Left Alive
Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive. Credit: Pandora Film

The soundtrack fits perfectly into the film as it manages to create the sound of having been directly influenced by hundreds of years worth of composers. This is apt because the music, in the film’s continuity, is created by Adam who is a reclusive brooding musician.

Swinton and Hiddleston’s chemistry also makes the film, the relationship feels lived, real and raw and when either enters a room, they hold its atmosphere – when they enter together, they steal the show.

There are moments of levity in the film too as Marlowe drops hints that he wrote Shakespeare’s plays, but refuses to say it outright.

Scene from Only Lovers Left Alive
Tom Hiddleston and Jeffrey Wright in Only Lovers Left Alive. Credit: Pandora Film

At this time, when vampires have become a staple of vacuous teen coming-of-age films, Only Lovers Left Alive puts the mythical beings back into the horror genre in which they belong.

The film has a creepy, sinister atmosphere throughout, but without any real threat of danger. Scenes come across as gothic and mysterious but explores the characters’ emotions in a way that gives it a gritty realism, despite being a vampire movie.

So if the subject at Christmas dinner turns to vampire films, before anyone can mention Twilight, suggest a genuinely passionate, creepy, underrated, modern film with an amazing soundtrack to boot as a movie anyone should definitely watch this Christmas.

This article is part of the Film Advent Calendar series, where NQ editor Matt Hartless shares some of his favourite films in 24 different genres that you should watch if you need something to fill your time over the Christmas break.

Scene from Only Lovers Left Alive
John Hurt in Only Lovers Left Alive