Jim Jarmusch’s ‘The Limits of Control’

May 6th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

I still don’t get this film, but I’m nevertheless going to watch it again tonight for the third time. This is a prodigiously slow – movinglimits1limits2 motion picture (I don’t care, because the cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful – filmed mostly in Madrid and Seville, Spain) about a hit man given an assignment. The film is as cryptic and esoteric as it gets. Check out some of this dialogue or should I say monologue:

·        “The universe has no center and no edges”

·        “Reality is arbitrary”

·        “Everything is subjective”

·        “Use your imagination and your skills”

Right from the get – go you see an overhead shot of the “Lone Man” doing Tai – Chi in a stall in a public restroom at an airport. We learn quite quickly that this is not a mainstream movie and it’s going to perhaps require some thought i.e. a lot of thought (like I said, this is viewing #3 and I’m still not sure what’s going on …) Incidentally, the Lone Man (Issach De Bankole) always orders 2 espressos in separate cups. This we find out later is some sort of code along with matchboxes and a query about whether or not he can speak Spanish or not (yep, this is definitely a thought – provoking Jim Jarmusch film).

“As I descended into impassable rivers, I no longer felt guided by the ferryman … “ in other words (I think this is what this means) you are on your own in this world – in this life. This movie is so rich and has so much to offer if one has the patience. Yes, this movie moves at a snail’s pace but what an absolute masterpiece it is if viewed through the right lens.  Incidentally, speaking of lenses, throughout the entire film you see many of the characters wearing sunglasses. What does this mean? I suspect that Mr. Jarmusch is having fun with some dark humor here –right? Of course, secret service men, bodyguards, etc. are always seen wearing sunglasses suggesting secrecy, but in this film, it’s purposefully exaggerated to create a surreal and farcical effect.

I’m not going to do a frame by frame analysis of this film (although I think this would be profoundly interesting and fun) and certainly I don’t think there is such a thing as a “spoiler” when it comes to this movie. What is the plot after all: A taciturn hit man is given a mission from enigmatic men to kill a certain powerful man, about whom we know absolutely nothing and for reasons the picture never reveals. Along the way the protagonist anti – hero meets very interesting and mysterious people who instruct him what to do in code and ultimately the mission is accomplished and the movie ends. Does this sound like a movie for you ?

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I absolutely loved this film and if you are looking for something a little more than just the unfolding of a plot or story, then this is a must – see. I am leaving so much out including the sound production which is just first – rate e.g. the helicopter propeller blades juxtaposed with pigeon wings flapping is deliciously magical.

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One Response to “Jim Jarmusch’s ‘The Limits of Control’”

  1. magdalena Says:

    Should the film only be as choice as your review of it, we have a gem. Wonderfully captivating. Love, your biased wife.

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