The Limits of Control
Many critics will say that it is far easier to talk about something you hate than it is to express why you loved a film. Well in the case of Jim Jarmusch's latest film, The Limits of Control, it is tougher talking about work that you disliked when it was made by people you normally love.
The story centres around a mysterious Lone Man (Isaach de Bankolé) who is sent to Spain to complete a job. While the nature of the job is not divulged to the audience at first, you get the sense that it is the type of work that can only be handled outside the realms of the law. In order for the Lone Man to complete his mission, he will have to exchange information with a series of individuals (Gael Garcia Benal, Twilda Swinton, John Hurt, etc.) and keep his mind pure of sexual temptation (Paz de la Huerto).
The Limits of Control is a film where the end result is not as important as the journey to it. To truly understand the journey, one must realize that the end result is being aware that our reality is not our reality. Confused? Well this type of philosophical discourse essentially makes up the majority of this film. Some of the discussions serve as clues to events that will happen later in the film; while others are merely random musings on everything ranging from the misuse of the word " Bohemian", when talking about artist, to this history of musical instruments.
If nothing else, The Limits of Control is easily one of the most quotable films of the year. Though you will have a heck of a time trying to figure out what all the lines mean in relation to the film. For example, Twilda Swinton's character remarks that "the best films are like dreams you are not quite sure you just had." The problem with this statement is the fact that the slow dreamlike nature, in which events unfold, is downright maddening. If anything it is a painfully slow nightmare is only scary due to how boring it actually is. Gael Garcia Benal offers up an enlightening pearl of wisdom in "everything changes by the glass you see it through." Despite all these deep and profound lines by time you reach the climax of the film, if you can even call it a climax, you realize that it all really boils down to a "I think I can, I think I can" moment. Where envisioning your goal allows you to achieve it.
I know some may argue that I am missing the bigger philosophical picture but I am not ashamed to admit I just did not get it. When Jarmusch's characters are not spewing cryptic philosophical rhetoric, the rest of the film plays like a silent travelogue for Spain. It is really tough to find the deeper meaning in a film when the one character who holds to key to everything, Bankolé's Lone Man, only manages a few words every twenty minutes. I was originally willing to give Jarmusch the benefit of the as he is a director I usually enjoy. Plus the cast featured many actors/actresses that I love. Yet it is tough to praise a film that feels like a warmed over David Lynch picture that was left in the philosophical oven for far too long. Due to the calibre of talent involved, The Limits of Control is one of the most disappointing films of the year.