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THE LIMITS OF CONTROL

Director: JIM JARMUSCH

116 minutes| U.S.A./Spain/Japan| 2009| Colour| Dolby Digital Stereo| 35mm Text by Trevor Johnston


Jim Jarmusch returns with arguably the most provocative film of his career, a hypnotically minimalist affair he describes as ‘if Jacques Rivette remade John Boorman’s masterpiece Point Blank’. Closer in spirit to Dead Man than his more outwardly comic output, it features laidback Isaach de Bankole as an impeccably-tailored assassin on an enigmatic mission across Spain and into contact with sundry shady individuals — prompting stellar cameos from Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal, John Hurt and seductive Paz de la Huerta.

It’s structured like a piece of music, theme and variations unfolding with events, and since superfluous conventional narrative has been stripped away, we’re clearly encouraged to luxuriate in the captivating intensity with which Chris Doyle’s camerawork captures this existential odyssey. A key role for abstract paintings by Antoni Tapies (among others) clearly signals a challenge to shape our own interpretation of the material, a choice given ideological resonance with the climactic appearance of Bill Murray in menacing Rumsfeldian mode.

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