1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Film / Only Lovers Left Alive


"How can you have lived for so long and still not get it? This self-obsession is a waste of living. It could be spent on... surviving things, appreciating nature, nurturing kindness and friendship... and dancing!"

A 2013 film directed by Jim Jarmusch. Eve (Tilda Swinton) and Adam (Tom Hiddleston) are two ancient vampires who have been married for centuries. Eve is a lover of literature and knowledge living in Tangiers, while Adam is a tortured musician and amateur scientist in dilapidated Detroit. Eve undertakes a difficult journey to console Adam when she notices that ennui and boredom are starting to overwhelm him. They're interrupted by Eve's sister, played by Mia Wasikowska, whose appetite for blood — a foodstuff to vampires — seems more like a drug addiction. While they do their best to make Ava welcome, things go downhill rapidly, and soon their comfortable world starts falling apart.

Tropes appearing in this film include:

  • Adam and/or Eve: Adam and Eve, obviously. Could also apply to Ava, whose name is a variation of "Eve".
  • Anti-Hero: Adam and Eve are very lovely people, but they show a notable lack of empathy over Ian's death.
  • Blatant Lies: Adam repeatedly claims that he doesn't have any heroes. This is in spite of having a large wall covered in portraits of artists and scientists who are clearly his heroes.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Ava is actually Eve's "sister", but she acts like this. The scene where she tries to wake up Adam and Eve in bed is very reminiscent of a young child interacting with exhausted parents.
  • Byronic Hero: Adam.
  • Central Theme: Love and beauty. The two main characters are "lovers" who are entangled with each other no matter where they go or how long they stay apart. They are characterized by their love of beauty, which they find in music, literature, science and even downtown Detroit.
  • Cool Car: Adam's immaculate 1982 Jaguar XJ-S, which he's outfitted with custom-built Tesla tech under the hood.
  • Cultured Badass: Both Adam and Eve. Adam is a Gadgeteer Genius who is also a musician, and Eve loves books of all kinds.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Adam's preferred palette is black (in contrast to his wife Eve, who wears almost exclusively whites and ivorys, befitting of her more optimistic personality), but he's by no means a bad guy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Adam.
  • Disposing of a Body, Hollywood Acid variant. What happens to Ian.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The vampires' relationship with blood is intentionally depicted very much like a drug. They get it through dealers, and there's a lot of talk of purity and "the good stuff." When they drink it, they get momentarily high. Ava is depicted as an addict. She doesn't know when to stop, and Adam won't show her where he keeps his "stash."
    • Like most vampire tales, blood also takes the place of sex. Ava's interest in Ian looks like lust, but she really wants to drain his blood.
    • In the end, Adam talks about how when two particles become "entangled," anything that happens to one will be experienced by the other, even if they're on opposite sides of the universe. This reflects Adam and Eve's eternal love, even when they're on opposite sides of the world.
  • Eternal Love: Adam and Eve have been married for at least 200 years, and are still madly in love with each other. It may or may not help that they seem to spend a fair amount of time living on opposite sides of the world.
  • Fantastic Racism: Vampires call humans "zombies" and have a very low opinion of them. Adam in particular is quick to point out the many ways humanity has failed to progress past xenophobia and superstition.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Adam and Eve avoid attacking people, and when they do, they prefer turning instead of killing. Ava is technically even friendlier, but has more trouble controlling her urges.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Adam. His house and car run on generators he built himself based off Nikola Tesla's work (an old friend, you see). He and Eve use a lot of old-fashioned technology that Adam has jury-rigged to be quite advanced, such as video conferencing televisions that are so old they have knobs and an antenna.
  • Gilligan Cut: Adam insists that he won't be taking Ava and Eve out anywhere. Cut to a concert.
  • Hair Contrast Duo: Tom Hiddleston as Adam reprises his Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunet look, while Eve's hair is white-blond.
  • Happily Married: Adam and Eve.
  • Hipster: Adam and Eve are essentially bohemian vampires who spend their time appreciating beauty in a variety of artforms. Notably, they don't limit themselves to outdated artforms. Adam is very interested in science, and they both love Jack White.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: William Shakespeare is declared a liar and thief, taking credit for plays that Christopher Marlowe had written. To be fair, as Marlowe himself points out, most of the plays were first shown to the public after Marlowe had supposedly died.
  • Hollywood Acid: There's a pool of it in an abandoned carpark that dissolves flesh in about a minute.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Adam believes this.
  • I Call It "Vera": Adam names some of his instruments.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: All artists, at least. Apparently Christopher Marlowe was a vampire, and between him, Adam, and Eve, they knew practically every famous writer or musician in the past 500 years. Byron is name-dropped, and portraits on a wall include Shakespeare, Poe, and Mark Twain. Also included are famous film-makers, especially Jarmusch's former teacher, Nicholas Ray, director of In a Lonely Place and Rebel Without a Cause.
  • Informed Ability: Adam is supposed to be a musical genius, but he plays very little in the film. The most we get is him strumming a simple toon on a lute in the end.
  • Must Be Invited: Ava enters Adam's apartment without permission and Eve tells her that it's bad luck to do so, although nothing bad happens to her.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The Paris thing with Ava. It's implied that she killed someone, but that's about it.
    • For some reason, Adam cannot fly to Tangiers via London.
    • Adam's bathroom has been 'out of order' for some time, and we never do see what's in there. It's probably where he keeps his stash, since he never needs to use the bathroom for its actual purpose, being a vampire.
  • Omniglot: Eve speed-reads literature in a variety of languages.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They can appear on TV cameras, unlike traditional takes on vampires that have them not able to cast reflections or appear on film. They also dislike feeding on human hosts, in part because it attracts undue attention but mostly because blood from living people tends to be too full of things that are toxic to vampires, like drugs (both prescription and not) and various toxins absorbed from the environment. One of the vampires becomes very ill and dies after drinking toxic blood. Ava commits a serious faux pas by drinking the blood of a living person. They also have the power of psychometry and wear gloves to contain it in public, and can give people psychic dreams. They can also move supernaturally fast if need be. They cannot go out into the light, and can be killed by being pierced by very dense woods.
  • Perma Stubble: Adam has a slight but unvarying five o'clock shadow. Possibly justified by the fact that he's undead.
  • Really 700 Years Old: While no exact ages are ever divulged, Adam is over 200 years old, while Eve clearly has several centuries on him.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The vampires' eyes become an eerie reddish-gold when their blood reserve runs dangerously low.
  • The Renfield:
    • Ian. Not actually a slave; Adam pays him pretty well, it would appear, as he goes around and buys up vintage instruments and other musical gear. He also seems unaware that his "boss" is a vampire.
    • Kit also gets one in Bilal, who does know Kit is a vampire
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Adam, the depressed, suicidal recluse, always wears black and has black hair. Eve, the vivacious lover of life, always dresses in white and has white hair. That being said, Dark Is Not Evil and Light Is Not Good fully apply.
    • Their names. That being said, we have no idea if 'Adam' and 'Eve' are their actual names, or if they assumed the names at some point and kept them.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Played straight, with Detroit. Truth in Television.
  • Scenery Porn: Adam's house, especially if you're knowledgeable about vintage musical instruments and recording gear.
  • Shout-Out: There are tons of references to works and people that Adam and Eve like.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Adam and Eve ask it together after they've fled Detroit, seen Kit die and are all out of blood.
  • Sunglasses at Night: All the vampires, for reasons presumably related to their vampirism, but never explicitly clarified.
  • Vampires Are Rich: Adam and Eve seem to have an unlimited amount of wealth. Adam overpays for everything with big wads of hundred dollar bills. Eve has a box filled with international currency and credit cards.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Played with. Adam and Eve are two beautiful people who share an intensely erotic relationship and sleep together naked, but we never explicitly see or hear about them having sex. Being undead, they clearly lack many common bodily functions, which could include sexual arousal. If they do have sex, they appear to be monogamous.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: They prefer to buy blood from the hospital because the blood is cleaner and it is more humane. though they can feed on humans if they are desperate.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The many references to artists and scientists go unexplained. You just have to get them yourself.