Monday, 17 February 2014

REVIEW - ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE


That insufferable hipness that resides in all of Jim Jarmusch's films - they are best when this element is taken as moot, and a film is constructed over it, rather than around it. Because it's always going to reside right there. Best to allow it to surface by itself, without provocation, without aggravation. It's prodded into the daylight and burned to an acrid crisp in Only Lovers Left Alive, which is otherwise a seductive and rather diverting take on the vampire genre. Would that Jarmusch's obsession with producing exactly that - his personal take on vampirism - was much less pronounced, since the film often feels like that's its sole raison d'etre. But good on Jim for staying savvy to the basic needs of audience members whom this film may never even reach, and me: a cringeworthy predilection for highbrow artistic referencing does yield a typically terrific soundtrack, and Jarmusch doesn't seem to see a need to retire his sense of humour, even when striving so hard to be so cool. Decorating his strains and striving are the more modest, and more successful, efforts of a talented cast and crew. Yorick Le Saux once again crafts imagery that looks fresh out of the pages of Vogue Italia, and Bina Daigeler's costumes reconfirm her as one of the industry's most underrated designers. And Jarmusch's new muse, apparently, the incomparable Tilda Swinton, at long last afforded a leading role in one of his features, is ravishing as ever. What character and atmosphere this team of artists constructs without even appearing to try, while their director tries constantly, and either misses his mark or hits a particularly dubious mark particularly well. For it's when the film rises above his trademark hipness, and quits wallowing around it, that it is as seductive and as diverting as it ought to have been throughout.