After his own particular take on the assassin movie, Jim Jarmusch is reinventing the vampire genre with Only Lovers Left Alive. After the Twilight series and True Blood, there’s no short supply of modern reincarnations of the nocturnal bloodsuckers, and with its Christopher Marlowe and Adam and Eve backstories, Jarmusch’s film isn’t quite as clever as it thinks it is. But with fantastic performances from Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as the volume-haired, black-eyed rockers roaming the Earth in Detroit and Tangiers, it’s an über-stylish caper of night flights, hospital blood canisters and hip flasks. Like a fairy king and queen living among ordinary “zombies”, it’s a vamp’s eye view of the world and its problems.
Equally aloof are Joanna Hogg’s artist couple in Exhibition, coming to terms with selling their multi-million pad in Kensington. Dedicated to the late architect James Melvin (in whose former home the film takes place), it’s a spare exploration of architectural detachment and marriage as a couple, who live, work and sleep together, lose interest in, rival and annoy each other. Without the witty dialogue or relationship sharpness of Archipelago, Exhibition with its one central location and dry observations becomes a claustrophobic peek through the floor-to-ceiling windows into the lives of the do-nothing rich. And finally there’s Biyi Bandele’s feature debut Half Of A Yellow Sun – an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel. Despite great performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, it’s an unfortunately soulless piece, unable to conjure up the tragedy of war with its clunking set-pieces, clumsy explanations and dramatic exaggerations. And a sad betrayal of the heartbreaking story, choosing explosions and fakery over any kind of emotional truth.