For reasons left unexplained, Adam and Eve live in different places. Eve resides in Tangier, with her old friend Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who occasionally grouses about having given up credit for his greatest writing to others (William Shakespeare, for example). Adam, meanwhile, lives in Detroit, focusing on the failures of humanity through the city's deserted buildings and abandoned industry. He indulges himself a little, buying vintage guitars from his single human friend, Ian (Anton Yelchin), but contemplates suicide, even going so far as to have Ian find someone to make him a wooden bullet ("for an art project," he tells Ian, who doesn't bat an eye). When Eve discovers Adam's existential misery, she hops on a night plane to America, hoping to remind him of the world's wonders, but their party is crashed by Eve's obnoxious sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska).
All of Jarmusch's movies have exuded his jazzy sense of underground hipness, but Only Lovers uses pop culture in a different way. There's something more monotonous about night than day, and Adam and Eve have been alive for centuries. Their only way of marking time is art and culture, and they drive around Detroit studying buildings and talking about the universe, marveling at how much has changed and anticipating the time when everything will change again. Like the LP, there's a sense of repetition, that humanity's conflicts ebb and flow like clockwork, a thought that is somewhat comforting to Eve and frustrates Adam, who laments humanity's "fear of their own imagination", and despairs about our ability to poison our water and even our own blood. In a line that might not have seemed as pointed in 2013 when the film premiered, Adam asks Eve, "Have the water wars started yet?" "They're just starting, she replies. "They never figure it out until it's too late," he grumbles.
Jarmusch's films also have a reputation for their deliberate pacing, and Only Lovers pushes his usual shuffle to a languid extreme. Entire scenes occur with Adam and Eve draped over the couch, nearly motionless as they discuss guitars and authors and the human race. In several scenes, the pair just take in a song, their stillness only occasionally accentuated by a partial fade-in of the record over the image of their bodies, spinning round and round. In one scene, as Eve convinces Adam to dance, one can almost imagine they've been alive so long that each cut represents some other similar emotional low in their past, the same but different, as they fall into the same trap as the humans Adam is so dismissive of. Although the film covers several days, even weeks, there are little to no clues as to when time is passing. All of these choices emphasize the film's pace, but it's intentional, an attempt to get the viewer on the same restless emotional page as Adam and Eve. Ava and Christopher Marlowe occupy the opposite ends of the spectrum, with Ava in particular appearing as a reckless force of nature still intoxicated by the idea of being a vampire. Watching her, it's hard to say if it will wear off over time, or if it's just luck that Adam and Eve were turned with more emotional maturity under their belts.
The bleak landscape of Detroit (both in terms of the early-morning hours and the remnants of what once was) is occasionally punctured by humor, including Jeffrey Wright as a nervous doctor who hooks Adam up with his necessary blood. When Adam visits, he wears ridiculous name tags on his outdated doctor costume such as "Dr. Faust" (one imagines he stopped just short of "Dr. Acula"), but then again, maybe Adam helped invent Faust, so perhaps he's entitled. Yelchin is endearing as Adam's friend, overwhelmed with excited, nervous energy when Adam, Eve, and Ava all go out to see a rock show at a local club. Even so, the film's world revolves around Swinton and Hiddleston, both intoxicatingly sensual as a couple whose bond is as enduring as their lives. Their chemistry is evident even when they're not speaking, as if pulling electrical current from the surrounding atmosphere. There may be pops and scratches, maybe even the occasional skip, but their record is always ready to go around again, another opportunity to dance.
The Video and Audio
If the visuals are sumptuous, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack hits the viewer like a hurricane, especially during some of the film's more languid moments, when a song on the soundtrack will fill up the entire soundscape. Guitar riffs drift out into the ether, long and lingering, no doubt an accentuation of the film's themes. Other scenes are eerily still and quiet, basking in the white noise in between big moments. Dialogue always sounds perfectly crisp, and the entire experience is quite enveloping. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, and English and French subtitles are also included, as well as a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio Track.
This is followed by a large selection of deleted and extended scenes (26:22). Anyone who disliked the film might find these verge on the border of parody -- more songs and other pop culture ephemera are referenced, along with the occasional morsel of character development. There are also a couple of takes that seem like alternates, namely one with John Hurt. The disc then rounds out with a music video for Yasmine Hamdan's "Hal". All three of these extras are in HD.
Trailers for Magic in the Moonlight, Third Person, For No Good Reason, Jodorowsky's Dune, and The Lunchbox play before the main menu. An original theatrical trailer for Only Lovers Left Alive is also included.