Review: Limits of Control
Plot: A mysterious assassin (Isaach De Bankolé) wanders through Spain, while preparing for his next assignment.
Review: Jim Jarmusch is nothing if not pretentious. That’s not to say he’s a bad director- far from it. At his best, he’s able to put together some fine work (BROKEN FLOWERS, GHOST DOG, DEAD MAN), and even at his worst, his films are never anything less than intriguing.
THE LIMITS OF CONTROL is not one of Jarmusch’s better films. It’s first and foremost an exercise in style, but the film is so devoid of content, you really have to wonder whether or not Jarmusch ever expected there to be an audience for this film. It’s really less of a film, and more of an endurance test. It’s so deadly dull that managing to sit through the film is in many ways an accomplishment unto itself.
The film, while being sold as a hit-man drama, is really just a series of vignettes, with Bankolé’s blank slate character encountering various people in Spain (played by Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal, & John Hurt, among others) who sit with him in cafes while he drinks two espressos (in separate cups) and lecture him on art, while supposedly providing him with information which will lead him to his ultimate goal. This goal turns out to be a shady businessman played by Bill Murray- who, despite the fact that he’s supposed to be a villain, comes across as the most sympathetic character in the film as he’s the only one who actually conveys any emotion.
Still, like all of Jarmusch’s films (even the bad ones), THE LIMITS OF CONTROL does have a few things going for it. The film was shot by ace cinematographer Christopher Doyle (famous for his work with Wong Kar Wai- who’s better at this type of mood piece than Jarmusch) and looks fabulous. We also get the delicious, and bespectacled Paz de la Huerta, who’s nude throughout (the closest she comes to being clothed is when she wears a transparent raincoat). I also liked the hypnotic score by Japanese rock band, Boris.
Still- I hesitate to recommend THE LIMITS OF CONTROL, unless A) you need a film to help you sleep, or B) you’re an extremely pretentious film snob who finds any film that would stoop so low as to be entertaining, distasteful. If you fit any of those criteria, than enjoy. Otherwise, skip it and rent GHOST DOG instead.
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