Another journey into the mindscape of Jim Jarmusch travelling along the familiar pathways of his love for music and physics, but this time delivered via the unexpectedly ethereal, and at times amusing, blackened world of vampires. Tom Hiddleston (Adam) and Tilda Swinton (Eve) are the lead vamps and have been lovers for countless decades, with John Hurt and Mia Wasikowska in support, aided by Anton Yelchin and Jeffrey Wright as two of the few mortals in the film. The performances are great, especially from the leads, but the use of music throughout the film is very well balanced creating not only a sombre tone for the shadowlands of their lives, but also a unique ambience for long reflective moments, as we spend most of the film in Adam’s home musing along with his lugubrious melancholy at the state of the world.
His home is in a rundown area of Detroit, where he lives as a mysterious and reclusive musician lamenting on the fact that his distancing himself from commercial interests only seems to make his music even more popular, which is the perfect setting, subtly adding to the not so cheery vein running through the film after Detroit last year was forced to declare itself bankrupt, the largest scale event of its kind in US history, with her population considerably under half of what it was in the 1950s. The vampirism is part anchor and delivery mechanism for the philosophy, but it could also easily be read as a thinly veiled metaphor for drug use and dependence, especially when they speak of contamination of the blood supply, in today’s HIV conscious world.
Continuing the protagonists commentary on the general malaise of mankind, comparing his centuries of scientific learning and cultural experiences to the modern world, we find mention of the work and theories of nineteenth century electronics pioneer Nikola Tesla, just as in Jarmusch’s ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ (David Bowie gives a nice turn playing him in ‘The Prestige’ (06) as well, incidentally), and when Adam points to the mess of cables and wires around the place that pass for a supply of power and waves it off as woefully rudimentary and wasteful, he is absolutely right. In today’s world, the technology and know how exist to completely transform the way we live, making it a hundred times more economically viable as well as environmentally friendly – for those with a Facebook account take a look at this clip from Physicist TV to see what I mean, or watch the excellent documentary ‘Who Killed the Electric Car’ (06) to see how big business stamps its regressive boot down on technology that threatens its profits.
For fans of Jarmusch this is a must see, and for everyone else it’s worth delving into for the shades of legitimate grey contrasted with the unhurried, yet enduring and passionate romance of the two main characters.