Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are vampires living between Detroit and Tangiers. He is a reclusive rock star going through a personal crisis and collecting rare guitars and living in a Detroit that’s a shell of its former self. Eve, a distinguished bookworm, wanders the streets of Tangiers at night and gets accosted by shady street vendors desirous to cater to all her whims, except the one that’s most essential. Adam and Eve love one another and cannot live long without each other. In fact, they’ve gone through centuries together.
Adam is annihilated by some sort of mid-life crisis. He finds the zombies (the nickname that vampires gave to humans) exasperatingly stupid and devoid of any intellectual ambitions. As he withdraws further into himself Eve tries to save him from metaphysical suicide tendencies.
Attempting to explain away a Jarmusch film is nearly impossible. The story, if indeed there is one, is almost always tenuous and is kept together by minimal dialogue–in a word, it’s the atmosphere, stupid. The film impresses us with its langorous rhythm and underground musical score instead, all of which create a rich landscape upon which actors can compose their performances. Jarmusch’s economy of style is a fact of life and it is useless to complain about it. Besides, it’s not as if anyone should be surprised by it.
Adam and Eve’s conversations span the sixteenth century and past space explorations, the off-season spawning of a fungus triggers cries of wonder from them, they can recognize the exact origin of a variety of wood by touching it, they’re able to draw inspiration and knowledge of everything that surrounds them. “Only lovers left alive” speaks to the artist’s prerogative, to the necessary isolation which must be imposed on him as he searches for beauty and truth.
Tilda Swinton, as Eve, gives a fascinating performance with just the right amounts of cool and brio. She is compelling because her character is distant. But her performance by itself isn’t the only one which makes this film a must-watch: Jeffrey Wright also makes appearances in this film, so look out for those).
Adam and Eve are vampires who have aged in the three and perhaps four digits. They’ve done it all. They’ve seen worlds get built and then collapse multiple times. When confronted by this unending cycle, the love which they feel for one another is the only tangible thing for them.