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The Limits of Control
dir. Jim Jarmusch / USA, Japan 2009 / 116’
subtitles: Polish


Isaach De Bankolé, Paz de la Huerta, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael García Bernal, Óscar Jaenada, Bill Murray, Alex Descas, Jean-François Stévenin, Luis Tosar

Film description

Few other Jarmusch films have gotten such polar-opposite reviews as The Limits of Control. Critics either loved it (Jim Hoberman, It’s Jarmusch’s best film since Dead Man) or slammed it (Rex Reed: Jarmusch is a director and screenwriter without enough talent for either profession).

The Limits of Control includes a series of classic Jarmuschian themes: a reticent loner wandering aimlessly, enigmatic secondary characters, a road film, references to classic suspense films, and episodes that make up separate subplots, etc. The film gives the impression that Jarmusch was interested in a narrative experiment, checking which components he could remove without losing the audience: The characters’ motivation? The heroes’ emotional engagement?

There are two ways to approach this film. First, you can experience it as pure cinema – image, sound, motion, and the exceptional palette of colors served up by master cinematographer Christopher Doyle. It is a film for those who love to stare at the beautiful packaging on a gift instead of tearing it open. In the second approach, you have to assume that it is a trip into Jarmusch’s mind, with a stream of consciousness catalogue of his fascinations, from Lee Marvin, to Wong Kar-Wai, Nicholas Ray, Tarkovsky, Hitchcock, Antonioni, Almodovár, Blake, and spaghetti westerns. Enough? It is.

Michał Chaciński

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