I was going through my external hard drive last night. It’s full of movies, some of them old favorites I tend to watch over and over again; some of them movies I downloaded at some point with the intent to watch them but never got around to it. None of them a movie I felt like watching at 11 pm on a Saturday night.
So I browsed through lists online: best of, recent years’ blockbusters, lists of movies you might enjoy if you liked so-and-so… and I stumbled across Only Lovers Left Alive.
According to IMDb, it’s categorized under the Drama/Horror/Romance genres, which suit me just fine. A brief plot summary suggests the movie is about a vampire couple, which sounds like something I might enjoy. With a rating of 7.3 on IMDb and a metascore of 79%, it certainly looked promising. Jim Jarmusch is an acclaimed director, Tilda Swinton a good actress; it looked like it fit the bill.
And then I sat through the longest hour of my life watching absolutely nothing happen.
I do not exaggerate. I wish I were. During the first half of the 123′ film, we see Adam, a reclusive musician in Detroit, sulk and contemplate suicide via custom-made wooden bullet. We see Eve, his wife, basically doing nothing in Morocco. A few long and tedious scenes are meant to make us understand they’re vampires, as they acquire some much needed nutrition in the form of blood – Adam buys some in metal containers from a hospital lab buy, Eve gets hers from an old vampire (her mentor? who knows, and more importantly, who cares?), which they proceed to enjoy in delicate crystal glasses, as their fangs pop out in pleasure.
Adam has a friend/fan/errand boy who procures rare vintage guitars for him. He makes a zombie reference, and momentarily I’m excited about the prospect of some action, finally. It’s not meant to be: zombies is what Adam oh-so-affectionately (read: disdainfully) calls humans. The zombie also has a wooden bullet made for him, per Adam’s instructions. Adam is depressed and keeps writing funeral music. He facetimes (!) with Eve, who for some unexplained reason is halfway across the world from him. He begs her to come to him. We watch as she speed-reads a bunch of books in several different languages, all plucked from a pile that drives me insane with OCD. You’d think with all that time on her hands she’d spare a few minutes to tidy up her book collection. Or to run a comb through her inexplicable hair! Aside from the distracting hairdo and untidy bookcase, is the speed-reading even essential to the plot?
We witness each of them separately experience a surge of thirst as they see fresh blood being spilled; Adam watches as a nurse takes care of a wounded patient at the hospital where he pays his regular visits to his blood supplier, Eve watches as a passenger on her flight to Detroit cuts his hand with the tab of the drink he’s enjoying.
The couple reunites – and again we’re left wondering why they spend their
lives existences apart – and Eve discovers her lover’s suicidal plans. She tries to get him interested in the world around him. At some point a pointless power failure takes us to Adam’s makeshift generator, or whatever that contraption is, and that, along with a monologue about how all the great minds in human history were mocked or persecuted, is a clue to his scientific inclinations. Again, another plot point that goes nowhere.
Then Eve’s “sister” wants to join them. She shows up and immediately annoys Adam, who had reservations about the visit to begin with… and that’s when I just stopped watching. I just didn’t give a damn about these people and whatever their problem was. It was long, it was slow, and it was so incredibly boring I actually fast forwarded through most of it and it didn’t even make a difference.
Has there ever been a more pointless movie? Probably. To be fair, I only watched half of it. Maybe things pick up in the second half, but I’ll never know. I looked for a synopsis on IMDb before sitting down to write this, just so I’d have a clue as to how the movie ends, but no one had bothered to write one, presumably because no one actually watched it all the way through. Or because NOTHING FREAKING HAPPENS in this movie to write about!
Which brings me to the question that’s been bothering me for some time now: who the hell gives these movies such a high rating? Do they even watch them before clicking? IMDb ratings are given by viewers, and a lot of them are pretty accurate. Users don’t just vote for Oscar-bait films or artsy-fartsy movies no one but the critics enjoy. They don’t vote according to how many nominations or award wins the movie has garnered (don’t get me started on that). So why give this such a high rating?
[I felt the same way about Cloud Atlas and it’s misleading 7.5 rating on IMDb. It wasn’t a case of nothing happening – indeed, a lot happened in that movie. All of it confusing and uninteresting, but at least the cinematography scored some points.]
Obviously we can’t all have the same taste in movies. As the saying goes, opinions are like assholes: everybody’s got one. But when the general consensus seems to suggest that Only Lovers Left Alive was a good movie, I expect at least something in it to stand out: the dialogue, the plot, the acting, the costumes and makeup. In the case of this movie, the only thing standing out was the horrible coiffure of Tilda Swinton.