A mysterious man (Isaach De Bankolé) is involved in some apparently criminal plot. As the story progresses, it seems the plot is more of a conspiracy than a simple criminal act. Several strangers cross paths with the mysterious stranger, entrusting him with coded messages, leading him closer and closer to his final goal, whatever it may be.
The story is as intricate as it can get, with many of the characters returning several times, in a form or in another. Repetitions and variations form an interesting texture of motifs leading the spectator from beginning through end, offering narrative hooks and reinforcing the film’s structure as the story progresses. The music and the sound effects play an important part as well, making the spectator focus on some aspects that would have been apparently irrelevant. The action factor, although events seem to proceed at a rather regular pace, is almost completely absent. We are mostly given to acknowledge the resulting effects of actions that take place somewhere off screen. The choice of leaving the action out of the picture draws attention to the sense of expectation which precedes a revelation that keeps on being delayed till the end, originating an uncommon aura of mystery even for a crime story.
The acting varies a lot depending on the role. Isaach De Bankolé gives a performance based on very minimal revealing alterations; his expression is almost immutable, so that from the slightest spark forming in his eye or from wrinkles on his face we are given a wide range of emotional complexity. Some other characters are portrayed likewise, while for others the actor’s performance relies on more effervescent or exaggerated antics.
According to critic Harlan Jacobson The Limits of Control is a Resistance film, a bit like George Lucas’ Star Wars. Despite my love for Star Wars, I don’t think this was the way to put it at all. Of course, both films are in their outermost aspects Resistance movies, but I see Jim Jarmusch’s latest feature mainly as an allegory, not even so abstruse to get. I am risking to spoil the film for everybody who has yet to watch it if I start writing here long explanations, but the metaphors are not hard to get at all if you try to pay attention to what’s on screen instead of looking for irrelevant details, like the hidden Star Wars reference in the choice of the peculiar blue for the opening credits. The Limits of Control quotes many cinematic sources and other media, from comics to spy movies to video clips, but it essentially remains, taken as a whole, an allegory about the power of imagination in the artistic effort. Jarmusch himself makes no mystery of his intention and also has Bill Murray’s cynical (!) character basically giving away towards the end the key to an interpretation of the film for whoever may be in doubt.
Title: The Limits of Control
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Genre: Drama, Crime, Mystery
Country: USA, Japan
Runtime: 116 minutes
Language: English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Japanese