Friday, 19 November 2010

The Limits Of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)

It’s supposed to be enigmatic, Zen-like, profound, mysterious,’s ‘The  Limits Of Control’, Jim Jarmusch’s film...and it wants to be all those things, but as far as I could see managed only a couple. Yes, it’s mysterious, and I’m mystified as to how it got the green light. I’m also mystified by the ‘plot’, which either makes me too stupid to understand, or it too stupid to succeed. Yes, it is stylish, and Jarmusch crafts some sumptuous shots, especially of the Milan hotel the Lone Man stays in, but that’s a stylish place to start with. Halfway through, the limits of my patience had been tested but I persevered, then I started fast-forwarding until something happened. What happens, mostly, is that he meets a series of people who talk profoundly before giving him a matchbox containing a set of codes on a small piece of paper, which he screws up and washes down with an espresso. He insists on always ordering two espressos, by the way. Remember that because it could be pertinent to the riddle. The Lone Man says very little. A woman appears in his hotel room and follows him some of the way. She’s up for a shag, but he isn’t. One of the strangers he meets is Blonde, played by Tilda Swinton. At one point she says she doesn’t even mind films where people sit and say nothing. This is Jim’s little joke about the fact that most of the time the Lone Man sits and says nothing. He follows a trail across Spain, finds the heavily guarded place he’s supposed to get into, and does so by ‘imagination’. Well, that’s one way of solving the problem. He couldn’t get in by stealth, intelligence or violence, least of all violence because that would make the finale too much like an ordinary film with, you know, some sense of climax. Bill Murray plays the intended target. It turns out he represents....who? The New Order? A powerful, secret organisation? Don’t worry about that. It doesn’t matter. By the end, I thought none of it mattered.  

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