“Only Lovers Left Alive” &
“The Other Woman”
The classic chick-flick elements are
all there in “The Other Woman”:
characters are strong, intelligent, and in charge.
characters are absent, indifferent, irrelevant, or downright scads,
scoundrels, and scumbags.
gain leverage by teaming up with each other; men remain isolated loners.
might talk about sex, but do not show us their body parts.
might be objects of romance, but they are not the main focus in the plot.
might allow themselves to be seen unglamorously, as long as they also have
the full hair/makeover/clothes shots.
Is there any originality in this
blatant revenge pic? Not
a lot. Cameron
Diaz plays Carly, the successful attorney who originally thinks Mark (Nikolaj
Coster-Waldau) is “the one,” until she finds out he is married.
She’s mad, she feels played, but she’s
ready to just not speak to him again and move on.
Until his wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), shows up at
her door wanting to know all the gory details.
Carly’s not really into that, she says, but
the women bond, anyway, because they have something in common:
they’ve been cheated by the same man.
Worse, still, they do some amateur sleuthing
and discover there’s yet another “other woman” in the mix, Amber (Kate
Upton, who’s famous mostly for being a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model).
Now the three of them get together and plot
some serious revenge. It
seems Mark has left himself vulnerable financially because he’s been
running corporate scams, complete with offshore accounts.
So it’s not enough to embarrass and humiliate
him, they also want to see his business career destroyed, as well.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”
and all that, but how about triple indemnity?
Of course our heroines, vindicated and
justified, now live happily ever after.
Yes, there are comedic moments, but there’s a
lot of anger on tap here, as well.
There’s also a certain
violence against persons dynamic in “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
That will happen in vampire movies.
But we don’t actually see the bloodshed.
Mostly, they’re imbibing the perfect cocktail
by purchasing illicitly from a nearby blood bank.
Less chance of contaminants that way, you know.
But the two central characters
here are Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), who seem so isolated
they may as well be the first man and woman.
Or the only man and woman still having a
relationship after all these hundreds of years together.
Actually, Eve has been living in Tangiers
lately, chumming with Marlowe (John Hurt), who actually did write
Shakespeare’s plays (glad we finally got all that cleared up).
Marlowe, like an aging Yoda, is about to give
up the ghost, but Eve journeys to Detroit, anyway, because her
husband/lover, Adam, is so lonely without her that he’s even had the
wooden bullet special-ordered, yes, so he can put the stake through his own
empty neighborhoods in urban Detroit serve as a perfectly eerie, empty
backdrop for our nocturnal half-deads, who look too pale, know too much, and
are so beyond world-weary that they have few connections to anyone outside
their private crowded bungalows.
But somehow Tilda Swinton carries a certain
moonlit luminosity to this role, and Tom Hiddleston, the lean and hungry
reclusive rock star, is her perfect foil:
someone to romance, still, after all this time
in a zombie-like trance of languid awareness, like catnapping jaguars.
There’s more originality in five minutes here
than in the entire film of “The Other Woman,” and yet, alas, we miss
levity and liveliness and ardor, even if it is tinged with anger.
And yet, it’s “Only Lovers Left Alive”
that shows us what a truly long-term relationship might actually look like.
Yes, these movies are complete opposites.
Neither is exactly mainstream.
But both are extreme “niche” films that
will appeal to widely divergent audiences.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister,
St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,