Only Lovers Left Alive observes the decay of culture and society not from within but from without. The lovers of the title, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), have been married for centuries but now live apart, he in Detroit, she in Tangiers. Adam is depressed and ready to end his eternal existence, and Eve, sensing that something is amiss, heads for Detroit. They reunite, all is well for a spell, but then Eve’s younger sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), arrives and disrupts their Edenic existence.

That is about as much plot as writer/director Jim Jarmusch needs to make a movie work. The rest is left up to Hiddleston and Swinton, and they pull it off. The two move and sway to the same silent symphony and look good doing it.

Yet, what makes Lovers so excellent and unusual is the serious attention Jarmusch devotes to the trouble with being immortal. What would it take to survive as a 500-year-old vampire? How do you keep people from realizing that you never get old and never work? How does one travel without proper documents? How to obtain blood when humans have polluted their red blood cells with drugs, drink, prescription medication, and GMOs? And then there is that little problem of never dying. What does one do while living forever? Eve reads, Adam rocks out, but mostly, they drift. Up and down the abandoned roads of Detroit and through the alleys of Tangiers, constantly burning time that for them will never end. Now streaming on HBO Max.

A version of the above review first appeared in the pages of Boulder Weekly Vol. 22, No. 13, “Team Jarmusch.”