This movie is visually stellar. Jarmusch takes us gently by the tit and leads us into a very erotic world that is not just sexually erotic, it is animal, raw, concrete and stone erotic. Swinton and Hiddleston are what heroin chic should have been -a punk rock sex walk of pale skin, jutting bone and wild manes of hair. The clothes are steampunk exotica. And every moment they sleep, I want to crawl in and take my chances. Her intellectual beauty and his artist angst are executed flawlessly. Their growing hunger is also done to perfection, every shot meticulously planned and presented like a multi-course meal of desire, despair, and satiation, repeated at an unnervingly languid pace.
Also, two tangents: 1) Jarmusch made Detroit as gorgeous and worthy of historic appreciation as Tangiers. Think on that. Two cities we don’t generally look at together are paralleled visually and as metaphor for our rapid decline (or transition) as a global community. 2) I am a huge Neil Gaiman / Sandman fan, so I will assume the exceptionally overt nod to Sandman in Tom Hiddleston’s look was, not only purposeful, it was purposefully done to be my porn. My jaw dropped every time that lanky, wild haired man moved…or didn’t move….or leaned…or..yeah, you get it.
Now the “but.”
But I can’t help but be disappointed in the writing. If not for perfect delivery by the two actors, I would have felt awkward with the stereotypical vampire banter. Did every immortal hang out with Lord Byron? Marlowe is a character? Really? Much love to John Hurt, but…really? Jarmusch saves with some witty historical figure gossip, but it’s old jokes, to be honest. And the little sister, the impetus of the plot, was a one note reflection of the new generation of kids.
I will likely give this a second chance. The audience liked it, friends I trust loved it. It may be my night’s mood. Until then, I will still suggest it to fans of Jarmusch, Swinton and Hiddleston. Every second was picture perfect. Jarmusch told the story so well visually, I may forgive the words’ lack of ability to keep up.