Only Lovers Left Alive (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Soda Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (7th September 2014).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

When love is tested by a wild younger sibling.

From the director JIM JARMUSCH (Ghost Dog, Broken Flowers) and with an all-star cast including Oscar-winner TILDA SWINTON (We Need To Talk About Kevin), TOM HIDDLESTON (The Avengers), MIA WASIKOWSKA (Alice in Wonderland), ANTON YELHIN (Star Trek Into Darkness) and JOHN HURT (Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy). ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is a film about music, love, and the transience of human culture.

Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?

Video

Soda Pictures have released Jim Jarmusch's feature "Only Lovers Left Alive" on to Blu-ray for British audiences, using the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is 1080p, and uses an AVC MPEG-4 encode. For all intents and purposes, it looks great.

This feature marks the first time Jarmusch has opted to film on digital, using an Arri Alexa Plus camera through Cooke S4 anamorphic lenses to keep a softer natural look. The palette suits the film perfectly, with muted and dull tones prevalent throughout. With such a large array of darker colours, you may expect details to perhaps suffer, and whilst some of the finer details can be lost in the shadows, details are generally very good. There are lots of small items in the backgrounds, yet they never appear clunky or blocky, and you can make the vast majority of them out clearly. Some of the more intricate mid-range details, such as stitching patterns in the cushion on the chair at Adam's home, really helps add depth to the intended lifelessness. Skin tones are accurate, with Tilda Swinton's very pale skin and hair colours giving strong contrast to her dark surroundings. As far as flaws go, there really isn't anything worth mentioning bar some very mild aliasing from time to time. There is no edge enhancement, no signs of damage, and no compression artefacts. This is a very good transfer indeed.

The film is uncut and runs 123:01.

Audio

There are several options available:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English LPCM 2.0 Stereo
- English Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing I opted for the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which was involving and of high quality. The film is quite dialogue driven, with only a couple of scenes taking place in noisier environments (such as a rock club), however, these scenes do make full use of the surrounds with strong environmental effects, especially the Arab music which plays upon the arrival in Tangiers, and the taxi driving round the sloping hill. The (frankly amazing) music choices also utilise the surrounds and the LFE well, taking in several styles of music with excellent clarity. Dialogue is clear at all times, and volume levels are consistent. There are no problems with drop outs, scratches, or any other type of damage. The track won't set the world alight, but the design contains solid separation and direction and zero flaws.

Optional subtitles are included in English for the hard of hearing.

Extras

We start the supplements with the "Travelling At Night with Jim Jarmusch" documentary (49:21). Directed by Léa Rinaldi, this essentially follows Jim Jarmusch around the set of the movie without any narration or real structure. A lot of the footage here is interesting to view, and shows us how Jarmusch works with various cast and crew members. A welcome addition, but for me, only worthy of a single viewing.

Next up, we have a heap of deleted and extended scenes, clocking in at a mammoth 26:21. Most of the scenes included, could certainly be re-inserted into the feature without hesitation, but with the film running over two hours, I imagine most were trimmed to keep the length of the film down slightly. Unfortunately, the scenes are not selectable individually (though do have chapter stops), and I would have also liked to have seen some text cards giving some small detail about each scene.

A music video entitled "Hal", performed by Yasmine Hamdan (4:49) is our next extra. Hamdan has a mesmerising voice, and the fusion of a pop/rock/ballad (?!) style with a Middle Eastern flavour works really well. Its place in the film was perfect, so it is great to also see it as an extra in full.

In the interview with actress Tilda Swinton (11:20), who plays Eve, she tells us that she was getting a satisfaction from finally being able to film scenes that Swinton and Jarmusch have talked about for eight years. She tells us about Jarmusch's directing style, the music of the film and her character's appreciation for her lovers music, the title of the film and its different meanings, how the film is about human beings rather than immortals, modern vampires, and acting.

In the interview with actor Tom Hiddleston (14:06), who plays Adam, we hear about how the film is about love, his character (who he decribes as Hamlet played by Sid Barrett), what would it be like to be immortal, the meaning of Detroit as a location, the character of Ian, how Ava is an old-school vampire (still bites), how Jarmusch is a poet of cinema, and what he believes the title means.

The final interview is with actress Mia Wasikowska (6:50), who plays Eve's younger sister, Ava. She talks about first meeting director Jim Jarmusch in London, being on the set, how the actors get a lot of freedom in how to present scenes, the characters conflicting personalities, her character, the vampire family, the varying morals between her character and that of Adam and Eve, and the music in the film. She finishes up with her own definition of cinema.

The rest of the extras are self-explanatory:
Start-up Trailers (6:32):
- "Night Moves" (2:16)
- "Finding Vivian Maier" (2:10)
- "Pulp" (2:04)
Bonus Trailers:
- "Stranger Than Paradise" (2:48)
- "Down by Law" (2:32)
- "Mystery Train" (2:04)
- "Night on Earth" (2:31)
- "Dead Man" (2:09)
UK Teaser Trailer (0:47)
Australian Theatrical Trailer (2:15)
UK Theatrical Trailer (1:45)

Packaging

There is a Zavvi exclusive steelbook also available.

Overall

The Film: A Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: C+ Overall: A-

 


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