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The Limits of Control
The Limits of Control
Actors: Isaach de Bankol, Alex Descas, Jean-Franois Stvenin, scar Jaenada, Luis Tosar
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2009     1hr 56min

Acclaimed filmmaker Jim Jarmusch delivers a stylish and sexy new thriller about a mysterious loner (De Bankolé) who arrives in Spain with instructions to meet various strangers, each one a part of his dangerous mission. Fe...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Isaach de Bankol, Alex Descas, Jean-Franois Stvenin, scar Jaenada, Luis Tosar
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Creator: Jim Jarmusch
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Crime & Criminals, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/17/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 56min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Daniel B. (MooVJunkE) from KIMBALL, MN
Reviewed on 5/8/2013...
Booooring. I can definitely appreciate films that have beautiful cinematography, but I couldn't keep from checking the clock to see how much longer they were going to drag out some of those scenes. I love the ideas, but this should have been a 15 minute short. Oh, and the wife actually fell asleep during this one. ouch.

Movie Reviews

Minimalist's Noir; For Jarmusch Fans Only
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 11/28/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I am not a big fan of Jim Jarmusch. I really liked two of his films, though - "Night on Earth" and "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai." The story was thin, but I really liked those fascinating characters he portrayed in them, especially Winona Ryder's taxi driver and Forest Whitaker's hitman. And the soundtrack is always unique.

In "Limits of Control" you meet "Lone Man," a mysterious unnamed man (played by Isaach De Bankolé), who is, it is suggested, about to do something criminal. The film is set in Spain and the man meets other mysterious characters, sometimes exchanges matchboxes, and continues to travel.

You may call Jarmusch's new film experimental. Or something like, "a mystery film without mystery" or perhaps a minimalist's noir. I like the idea itself. A certain film genre has a set of rules that have been repeated so long, and it is good to see those rules played out in an unexpected way, like some great European film directors such as Aki Kaurismäki.

Having said that, I must say the results of the cinematic experiments don't have to be boring. I know the film is not about story or characters, and I think I know some of the references to other films, but sorry, to me, quite honestly, "Limits of Control" was just dull. The cinematography by Christopher Doyle is certainly worth seeing, and it is good to see many familiar faces in Jim Jarmusch films (including Kudoh Yuki), but the film is strictly for avid Jim Jarmusch fans.
Haunting neo-noir
avoraciousreader | Somewhere in the Space Time Continuum | 05/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Limits of Control
dir Jim Jarmusch 2009

5* Haunting neo-noir

I just saw a preview of this film last night, and ... wow. Very Jarmuschian, very Doyle'ish. Yes, legendary Wong Kar-Wai cinematographer Chris Doyle shot this, and it was an inspired fit. Visually, the film is beautiful as we tour Spain from the cities to the remote country, yet at the same time brooding and ominous.

Which was suitable, since the overall effect of this film is definitely noir. Mysterious goings on, presumably unlawful; suspenseful music; a morally ambiguous central character; the aforementioned brooding and ominous landscape; even a flamenco rehearsal reminiscent of the almost obligatory nightclub scenes in classic noir.

Structurally, the film is simple. A Lone Man (played with impeccable detachment by Isaach De Bankole') arrives in Madrid. He is contacted, given brief and cryptic instructions, and goes on to make the next contact. At each stage, he orders two espressos, "in separate cups", opens a matchbox to find a folded square of paper with a few numbers and letters on it (coordinates?), which he memorizes and destroys; he has some task such as "find the violin"; he hangs out for a while, always ordering two separate espressos, until he is contacted, given a pass phrase; has a few cryptic words and exchanges his matchbox for a new one, and sets off on the next phase. At each stage there is a small cast of sharply drawn characters, cameos really ... the flamenco performers; or a cafe waiter impatient with his habits; or the beautiful, naked, and seemingly very willing (though we're never sure just what game she's playing), young woman (Paz de la Huerta) who shows up in his hotel room. Few, if any, characters other than the Lone Man are here for more than a few minutes.

This structure seems like it should quickly get tedious, but instead the tension builds palpably. What, we wonder, is really going on, even as we are presented with a few clues. Why all the complex charades? Is this criminal, political, or...? Fortunately, we eventually do get to resolution of sorts, although a suitably ambiguous and head scratching one. I know I'm definitely looking forward to a chance to view this one again."
The Limits of (your) Patience and Perseverance
Robert B | toronto | 12/27/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Well. An important hint is given in the supplementary feature by director Jim Jarmusch. When asked about the movie, he explains it in terms of everything it's not (except the naked babe): action, explosions, chases, naked babe reality, the movie could be described as the anti-action-mystery-movie. I would have to conclude that it is intended as a parody of the type of movie he describes, or possibly as the inverse of such a movie. A stone-faced, mostly silent mystery man wends his way through Spain, exchanges mysterious matchboxes with various characters who spout banal juvenile philosophical observations approximately equivalent in depth to, for example, 'How long is a short string?' or 'How many bubbles in a bar of soap?', even though these specific examples are not used. (Jarmusch is free to use them if making a remake - I do not claim copyright). The Silent Traveler receives cryptic notes in each matchbox he receives; he glances at these notes and then eats them. I presume they give instructions to reach his next meeting - and he must be a really quick read, because I would find them very difficult to remember - where he will exchange matchboxes again, etc etc. At each of these many meetings, he is asked (in Spanish) if he speaks Spanish. Between such meetings, big black helicopters occasionally pass over or hover nearby. And yes, there are Corporate bad guys. Now what all this means, other than being an anti-movie I will not speculate, other than to make the observation that it is paralyzingly boring, rather like the Warhol movie entitled, I think, Sleep, whereupon a man is photographed sleeping for 8 hours, or 24 hours, or whatever.
I bought this movie because of some terrible opinions I heard about it (I'm like that), or maybe just because of the naked lady, and I must say I can't say I was misled.
The single star granted is for the cinematography (Christopher Doyle - he never disappoints), which is excellent and would have been worth more stars in itself but for the fact that the 'story' negated any extra stars due for the camera work.