The Limits of Control

Dir: Jim Jarmusch

USA | Spain | Japan

2009

116

15

Jarmusch, darling of the NY indie scene, has gone European in his latest outing. Eschewing America, he’s opted to take noted Hong Kong based cinematographer Chris Doyle to Spain.

He’s brought a few of his regulars to keep him company, though. There’s Bill Murray playing against type as a mysterious Mabuse-style crime lord, a typically zany Tilda Swinton and the lead is Isaach De Bankolé, familiar from three previous Jarmusch films.

De Bankolé plays a nameless existentialist hero, on a mysterious quest which seems forever in the shadow of some unspeakable violence. As De Bankolé, an impassive surface of restraint and physical grace, draws closer to his prey, the audience grapples with their own attempted journey into this enigmatic man’s consciousness.

Along the way we are treated to a succession of strange meetings, each complete with a miniature discourse on a specific field of art. Willfully opaque, but shot with undeniable skill, Jarmusch offers us what seems like his own personal take on films we can imagine him loving as a teenager.

There’s Melville’s Le Samourai (again!), Boorman’s Point Blank, early Rivette, and late Francesco Rosi. Yet, The Limits of Control is unmistakably, for better or worse, a Jarmusch picture. Whether he lives up to his cinematic touchstones is for his audience to decide.

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