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The Boston Globe

Movies

Movie review

In ‘Only Lovers Left Alive,’ Jarmusch fully embraces the allure of the night

In “Only Lovers Left Alive,” writer-director Jim Jarmusch turns one of his silliest notions into one of the more affecting movies of his career. The idea is that two members of this director’s classic demimonde — pale downtown types, achingly hip, up all night, in this case addicts — are actually vampires, whose junk is our blood. It sounds a little obvious, especially when you hear the characters’ names: Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). Oy, indeed. But maybe Jarmusch is tired of chasing Zen rabbits down their holes, brilliantly in the case of “Broken Flowers” (2005), much less so in “The Limits of Control” (2009). “Only Lovers Left Alive” is disarmingly direct and charmingly directed; it’s a bona fide love story, if an exhausted and occasionally thin one.

Our lovers are living in separate cities when the movie begins, not because they need a break but because when your relationship has been going on for centuries, you’re always together, even when you’re not. Eve is in Tangiers, serene as a cat, a character out of a Paul Bowles novel. Adam is holed up in a decaying mansion on the outskirts of Detroit, a rock ’n’ roll recluse in a city whose toxic midnight decay the movie finds oddly beautiful.

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