Stream it while it’s hot—Only Lovers Left Alive, the moody, atmospheric, and novel take on the vampire genre, is available now on Hulu. The indie-darling stars everybody’s favorite Norse God of Lies, Tom Hiddleston, and offers a quick-fix for Hiddlestonians, as his fans are known, before the much anticipated second season of Marvel’s Loki.
Directed by the critically celebrated, delightfully idiosyncratic Jim Jarmusch in 2013, Only Lovers Left Alive costars the beloved Tilda Swinton (Three Thousand Years of Longing, The Grand Budapest Hotel). By no means your conventional, run-of-the-mill vampire flick, the movie substitutes jump scares and bloodshed for a subtly-crafted, atmosphere-drenched, and indeed hilarious meditation on love, ennui, and art.
If you’re in the mood for a slow-burning narrative imbued with equal parts philosophical musings and dark humor, Only Lovers Left Alive will probably over-perform.
All of it comes through the lens of two jaded vampires—Adam, portrayed by Tom Hiddleston, and Eve, played by Tilda Swinton. Thousands of years into their (extremely) long-term relationship, the lovers have very much seen it all.
When the film first opens, we find Adam “living’ out a reclusive and melancholic existence on the dilapidated streets of Detroit, in an equally dilapidated house. Disillusioned with both the modern world and its “zombies,” as he refers to humans, Adam battles intense, unrelenting depression. In the meantime, he produces his own music and hordes vintage instruments.
While Eve, ever the optimist—and Adam’s multi-century lover—only equates the world with its beauty. She journeys to Detroit from Tangier upon sensing Adam’s desolation. Like the rest of us, Tilda cannot stand when Tom Hiddleston is in a pouty mood!
Eve devotes her nights to reading and socializing with fellow vampire and the alleged author of Shakespeare’s works, Christopher Marlowe, played by film icon John Hurt (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Alien).
When Eve touches down in Mo-town, it reinvigorates Adam, and the two reminisce, exchange music, dance, and tour the city by car and by night—marinating in their shared memories and experiences. Meanwhile, the pair of lovers struggle to obtain “clean” blood—difficult to come by in the modern world.
Critics reacted warmly to the film, appreciating its departure from the conventional vampire-flick format.
To avoid harming humans, the “zombies” Tom Hiddleston disdains, the vamps opt for medically sourced blood—a little like veganism for the undead.
When Eve’s impulsive sister, Ava, played by the talented Mia Wasikowska (see her in Crimson Peak, streaming on Netflix now and also starring Loki himself), decamps from Los Angeles, dragging her recklessness and blood-thirst with her, Adam and Eve’s peaceful coexistence ruptures—leading to dire consequences.
Ultimately, Adam and Eve flee Ava, and the chaos she causes, for Eve’s haunt, Tangier, where fresh blood proves similarly scarce. Faced with their imminent demise, Tom Hiddleston and his blood-guzzling lover must make a difficult choice.
Tim Hiddleston’s ability to convey depth and melancholy, communicating a convincing, millennia-old weariness, won vast admiration.
The film was by no means intended to compete with big-budget blockbusters, but nonetheless made a major mark in the independent film circuit, securing over $7 million globally in its box office run, a respectable sum for an indie feature.
Sure, these are modest earnings by Hollywood’s standards, but they still underscore Only Lovers Left Alive’s ability to draw audiences—then and now. Critics meanwhile reacted warmly to the film, appreciating its departure from the conventional vampire-flick format.
The film enjoys an impressive 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a comparably strong 79 out of 100 on Metacritic. Tom Hiddleston certainly explains part of the movie’s critical appeal. His ability to convey depth and melancholy, communicating a convincing, millennia-old weariness, won vast admiration. Equally lauded was Tilda Swinton’s performance as Eve, as was the film’s soundtrack and Jarmusch’s unmistakable directing.
Beyond Adam and Loki, audiences across the world know and love the British actor for his remarkable range and depth, alongside his successful straddling of both indie darlings and blockbuster hits. Whether it’s as Loki, the complex antihero initially lighting up 2011’s Thor, or as Hank Williams Sr. in 2015’s I Saw The Light, Tom Hiddleston always delivers. Hence his Golden Globe for Best Actor win, garnered by his performance in 2016’s The Night Manager (based on Jon le Carré’s excellent novel).
So, if you’re in the mood for a slow-burning narrative, imbued with equal parts philosophical musings and dark humor, Only Lovers Left Alive will probably over-perform. Due to its genre-bending uniqueness, and our favorite Norse god’s performance, the film is a must-see. Stream it today.