Film review

The Limits Of Control

The Limits Of Control
  • Directed by Jim Jarmusch
  • Starring Isaach De Bankolé, Tilda Swinton


Near the start of Jim Jarmusch’s understated study of impermanence, the Lone Man (Isaach De Bankolé) encounters the Blonde (Tilda Swinton). The Lone Man is a creature of routine, and sits at his usual table, drinking two espressos. He listens while The Blonde (in white wig and cowboy hat) talks airily about cinema. “The best films are like dreams you’re never sure you’ve really had,” she says. And, “Sometimes I like it in films when people just sit there not saying anything.”

So, yes, there is a lot of dreaminess, and a lot of silent sitting in The Limits of Control. Roughly speaking, it is about a hitman awaiting further instruction, and receiving it in coded messages from various oddballs (John Hurt’s Guitar, Gael Garcia Bernal’s Mexican), while resisting the temptations of Paz de la Huerta’s Nude (whose role consists of being naked and discussing Schubert).

Plot isn’t in it. This is an essay in style, in which a great American director is transplanted to Southern Spain. The effect is akin to Pulp Fiction remade by Yasujiro Ozu. (Though, truly, Tarantino is like Jarmusch, gorging on space dust.)


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Rating: 4 / 10

(Opens December 11/ Cert 15/ 116 mins)


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