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Categories: Movie Reviews

I have to say that, even though Valentine’s Day is an old tradition (and not just the commercialised pseudo-holiday that it is today), I’m not a fan.

It seems to me that two people who care about each other shouldn’t be forced to celebrate this on one particular day. I do, however, love a good Love story (pun intended). Especially one that is a bit different, such as the ones I’ll tell you about now.

First off, there is a love story between to vampires, told by Jim Jarmusch. I’m fascinated by vampires, and even more so by Jim Jarmusch, so this is a perfect combination. Only Lovers Left Alive is set in the present, on two continents, Africa and North America.

Eve (Tilda Swinton) lives in Tangier, Morocco, amongst her books, walking through the dark, narrow streets of the medina. She gets her blood from her friend Christopher Marlowe (yes, that one), who prefers to remain incognito though (John Hurt).

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) lives in an old, derelict house in a Detroit suburb everyone left since the city went bankrupt. He is surrounded by guitars, the only companions he needs. His music is very popular though and his reclusive lifestyle attracts fans. His friend Ian (Anton Yelchin) provides him with guitars and a doctor at a hospital with blood.

Adam and Eve have been married for centuries. They’ve lead long, adventurous lives, hanging out with famous musicians and writers all over the world. It seems that all they want is to lead quiet lives, to leave humans alone and be left in peace. Adam is miserable though, and fearing that he may be suicidal, Eve travels to his side.

They spend a few glorious days together, enjoying each other’s company and the empty streets of Detroit. Only Eve’s obstreperous sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) disrupts their peace.

Even though we only see a glimpse in Adam and Eve’s long life together, one can tell that they are a perfect couple. Eve, who brings life and laughter to their lonely Detroit nights perfectly complements the gloomy Adam.

tomhiddleston

It is a beautiful film whose slow action draws you into their world, especially with Adam’s dark music. It is full of little jokes, such as Christopher Marlowe being a vampire, and them using Latin names for plants and animals. Even though it is set in the present, Adam and Eve are noticeably from a different era.

Only Lovers Left Alive is distinctly Jim Jarmusch in its slow pace, limited cast and gloomy setting, but it is different as well. It is certainly one of best works so far.

The second film I highly recommend is a beautiful story of a man who falls in love with the operating system on his smartphone. Spike Jonze’s Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix, tells an unconventional love story that is very topical these days.

In a futuristic LA, people wear with a little headphone in their ear and instead of talking to one another it looks as though they were talking to themselves. They walk around ignoring each other, focussing on their phones.

Theodore (Phoenix) is a shy writer, who has been lonely since his divorce, and spends his time with technology rather than people. He sets up an OS that talks to him on his phone, like Siri, but more developed. It is ‘an intuitive entity that listens to you, understands you, and knows you’, as the ad says. It seems that operating systems are used to replace real relationships between people.

HER

Samantha (voice by Scarlett Johansson), becomes his friend, and tries to get him out there again. Though she is an operating system, she learns from her time with Theodore, as she soaks up everything around her. She wants to be a real person, with a body and a personality, not just a voice, and learns from her experience with her users.

The lonely Theodore is enchanted by Samantha and slowly falls in love with her. Even though she has no body, he feels close to her because she is always available when he needs her. Even though he writes beautiful love letters – for strangers – in his job, he cannot talk to real girls the way he can confide in Samantha.

The inevitable love affair seems like a disastrous idea but it turns out that Theodore is not the only person to bond like that with his OS. In a world in which people are immersed so deeply in technology, and it is this advanced, it has become acceptable to date your OS. Samantha even requites his love.

Her is an amazing film, with a brilliant as ever Joaquin Phoenix, which provokes a lot of thought on artificial intelligence and relationships. Theodore and Samantha seem like the perfect couple, spending a wonderful time together. Yet, as with every relationship, they have their issues. They are different from those of old-fashioned relations but who are we to say that they are not just as normal.

Only Lovers Left Alive and Her picture inherently different love stories but they are both touching and beautifully made. They are a perfect alternative to sappy rom-coms that magically appear in cinemas around Valentine’s Day.

Her is released on 14th February, Only Lovers Left Alive on 22nd February with special previews in selected cinemas on Valentine’s Day.

Lynn Klein is a journalist currently doing a print journalism MA at Sheffield. Unsurprisingly, she's a film buff with a love for art and indie film. Her favourite cinema is the Duke of Yorks in Brighton. Other interests include books, coffee and travelling.

Posted on Feb 18, 2014

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