The Limits Of Control * * * *


Director: Jim Jarmusch.
Screenplay: Jim Jarmusch.
Starring: Issach De Bankole, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal, Luis Tosar, Alex Descas, Paz De La Huerta, Jean Francois Stevenin, Oscar Jaenada, Youki, Kudoh, Bill Murray.

Jim Jarmusch has always been a director that’s very particular in his structure, his pace and his mood. Some of his films and approaches are more successful than others and often they are not everybody’s cup of tea. So, if your not a fan, I would advise that you avoid this one entirely.

A mysterious, nameless assassin (Isaach De Bankole) travels across Spain on some kind of criminal mission. Wandering throughout the picturesque city he comes across an incalculable ensemble of oddballs who join him in drinking coffee, passing him matchboxes with directions contained inside and delivering existenstial monologues and advice.

This offering from Jarmusch could been seen as a self-indulgent experiment and it will most definitely not appeal to everyone. The length approaches 2hrs and the pace is very meditative indeed. It’s quite possibly one of the slowest films I’ve ever seen. Yet, despite this, I found it also retained a sense of purpose. It always looked like it had a reason and a direction, although it was never exactly clear what they were. The first 20 mins alone, consist of De Bankole just wandering around… then he does a spot of Tai Chi… drinks an Espresso… more Tai Chi… the occasional, ambiguous meeting with eccentric strangers and their philosophical confabulations… more Espresso and then at least half an hour passes before he realises he’s forgotten to do his Tai Chi, and promptly does so again. Believe me, that’s about all that happens throughout, but I still found it strangely captivating.
The locations are wonderful and perfectly captured by the excellent cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who crafts a dreamlike painting of a film. If you can imagine a crossover between the pace of Anton Corbijn’s “The American” with the philosophical surrealism of Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life” then this would be the result. Also, if you are familiar with the documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, which explores the difference between art and pretentiousness, this would make a nice companion piece to discuss along with it. It’s undoubtedly a real audience splitter which I have heard many people disliking. In fact, I’m the only person I know that has rated it highly.


Ostentatious and experimental filmmaking from Jarmusch that’s definitely not for all tastes. However, it’s brave, bold, odd and highly meditative while epitomising it’s very title in ‘the limit of control’.

Mark Walker

15 Responses to “The Limits Of Control * * * *”

  1. I’ve seen trailers for this for a while now and never felt compelled to pull the trigger.

    Great work as always, Mucker.

    Boat drinks!


  2. I really didn’t get on with his Broken Flowers, but I’d still give this a go. I wouldn’t like to base my opinion of the director on one film. Great write up mate.


    • Cheers Chris! I actually enjoyed Broken Flowers so that might be an indication that this film isn’t for you, but Jarmusch can sometimes produce the goods. Check out “Down By Law” with Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni. That’s my favourite of his.


  3. Sounds… different anyway. I’m not familiar with the director, and this is the first I’ve heard of the film. I might check it out, but I’ll bear your caveats in mind.


    • There are quite a few movies of Jarmusch’s that don’t work for me Morgan – As I’m sure is the case with many people but sometimes he’s worth the effort. If you do bare in mind this films pace and structure, you just might get something from it. Thanks man.


  4. I’ve never seen a Jim Jarmusch film so I don’t know what to expect from him, so I’m curious about this one. Also his next vampire film w/ Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as centuries-old lovers!


    • He’s not for everyone Ruth but that vampire movie you speak of is definitely one ill be checking out. I’ve enjoyed many of Jarmusch’s outings but they’re not always successful.


  5. Wow, this sounds very strange Mark, something IO just got to check out at some point. How can you lose with Tai Chi and Expresso?


  6. Popcorn Nights Says:

    Nice review Mark. I’ve been reading long enough now to think that I can trust you (!) so I’ll give this a go. I like Jarmusch’s films but this one totally passed me by until now. Hadn’t even heard of it.


  7. […] The Limits Of Control * * * * […]


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