Search This Blog

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Film – The Limits of Control – directed by Jim Jarmusch

Star rating 6/10

This was my first experience of a Jim Jarmusch film, and after reading several reviews which were, let us say, very much less than complementary, my expectations were not too great. And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I was intrigued, and taken along some sort of journey, although I could not exactly pinpoint where it went, how it ended up there, or indeed why.

Isaach De Bankolé is extremely enigmatic as the unnamed lone hit man who travels around Spain encountering various characters who each give him more information towards the puzzle which seems to be his mission. And he is definitely the strong, silent type – having very few words of dialogue for the entire film, preferring instead to observe, size the situation up, and wash it all down with two single espressos at frequent intervals along the way.

The minor characters whom he encounters to help with his mission are played by cinematic big hitters John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and Gael Garcia Bernal. Hurt is especially good in his brief appearance. But we are not really told who they are, why they are involved, or what the mission is. All we know is that the man is initially dispatched on the mission by two Frenchmen who use certain phrases that become code words used during the later encounters – ‘You don’t speak Spanish – right?’.

The action, such as it is, is enough to keep the audience engaged, if a little frustrated. The cinematography is stunning – sweeping from Madrid, Seville and onto the beautiful rural and barren parts of Spain that are seldom showcased. The lone man is certainly into control in a big way, such as in his ability to resist the lure of a beautiful young woman who stays with him at one point in the story.

So there is control in that sense, and also the control the Jarmusch is exerting over the audience, just hinting at possible explanations but never spelling them out. A thought provoking film that will split audiences, as it did with myself and my companions, but a hauntingly beautiful one that will stay with me after the final credits have rolled.

No comments:

Post a Comment