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The Limits of Control


Rated: R for graphic nudity and some language.
Release Date: 2009-05-01
Starring: Jim Jarmusch
Film Genre:
Country: Spain
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The Limits of Control

The quirky Ohio film director, Jim Jarmusch, known for his abstract, philosophical and excessively drawn out scenes, uses Spain as a beautiful backdrop in his new crime thriller ‘The Limits of Control’. The movie could be summed up as a deliberate banal and phlegmatic effort. There is barely any dialogue to push the story and the ending offers very little interest or excitement.

The minimal storyline concerns an unnamed assassin (Issach De Bankolé) who spends most of the film moving from location to location throughout Spain, collecting the information and equipment he requires to complete his latest assignment, the assassination of an American corporate bigwig (Bill Murray). He meets most of his contacts in cafes, although one woman (Paz de la Huerta) spends a few days nude with him in various hotel rooms. The film is based on a William S. Burroughs essay, a Rimbaud poem and vintage crime films, particularly John Boorman’s 1967 classic “Point Blank.”

It’s obvious after the first half of the film that Jarmusch intends to create a parable between the clashing of bohemianism and capitalism meant to be viewed as how corporate america has suppressed the highly intellectual culturati. The scant dialogue supports this theme by touching upon subjects as art, music, literature, cinema, science, sex, and hallucinations. Regrettably, the words are vapid and random as is the essence of the film. The resulting riddle won’t do anything to broaden the filmmaker’s loyal fan base as his many followers will be left feeling as alienated as his central character.

Noteworthy is Jarmusch’s new exploration of the Spanish and Hispanic culture. The first words uttered in the film are “Usted no habla español, verdad?” (You don’t speak Spanish, correct?) which is a phrase that is consistently used by the several diverse and bizarre characters as an introductory code when they all initially meet our protagonist.  There are also some droll scenes that are mostly spoken in Spanish, as well as a long Flamenco sequence where a Spanish song is highlighted. The Hispanic theme also permeates into the casting choices with the hiring of acclaimed Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal and Spanish American actress Paz de la Huerta. Bernal’s performance is not a stretch of his acting abilities, but his showing is merely a decision to work with one of his favorite directors.

‘The Limits of Control’ is tedious, excessively sober and vastly abstract for the common moviegoer. An offense that needs to stopped and that perhaps never will.

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