The Limits of Control 2009

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(17) IMDb 6.2/10
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Jim Jarmusch directs this freeform existentialist musing on life and art. A mysterious loner and outlaw (Isaach De Bankole) makes his meandering journey through the varied landscapes of southern Spain, subsisting solely on double espressos and the regular practice of T'ai Chi. Along the way he is handed small pieces of paper contained in matchboxes, each one symbolising a mode of expression - music, film, art, sex, drugs - each of which he absorbs but does not outwardly react to. John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal and Bill Murray are among the actors who appear in cameo roles.

Starring:
Paz de la Huerta, Gael Garcia Bernal
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 52 minutes
Starring Paz de la Huerta, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alex Descas, John Hurt, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Youki Kudoh, Isaach De Bankole, Bill Murry, Luis Tosar, Tilda Swinton, Hiam Abbass
Director Jim Jarmusch
Genres Drama, Thriller
Studio REVOLVER ENTERTAINMENT
Rental release 3 May 2010
Main languages Spanish, English

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Movie Guy TOP 100 REVIEWER on 4 Oct. 2013
Format: DVD
The movie is slow with very little action, and dialogue which repeats itself with every new matchbox. A quiet unnamed man meets with two guys, at an airport, who give him very little instructions. They send him to Spain to meet people in order to get information which he must piece together. Our loner (De Bankole) carries along a simple carry-on bag but has 3 changes of suits that are never wrinkled. He wears a different colored suit in each city. He drinks espresso with two cups, making him easy to identify to his contacts. He does Tao-Chi at night, most likely to relax from all that caffeine. The airport is symbolic of the gateway where souls pass.

The contact code phrase is "You don't speak Spanish, right?" spoken in Spanish. The counter phrase is "No." Once contact has been established, the contact talks about life and uses a phrase from the original airport conversation. At this point they swap matchboxes. Our loner then opens the box and pulls out a small piece of paper with numbers and letters on it, some sort of code. From what I gather he quickly deciphers the code mentally, afterward he eats it. Symbolic for man getting hints or clues from God, but not knowing what they are. Early on he meets a woman (the one in glasses on the back of the box) who is naked in his hotel room. Her clothes allergy remains for several days as our loner refrains from sex. Symbolic of birth, or maybe the teen years.

The characters he meets get older and give him different advice, eventually he gets a quiet ride (symbolic of the hearse) after a cemetery and dirt speech. Here his death is symbolized in a large building with the furniture covered.
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By tallmanbaby TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Feb. 2015
Format: DVD
It is easy to be misled by the reviews and trailer for this film. Calling this a thriller is highly misleading, while consistently pleasant to look at, this is arid stuff. Isaach De Bankole is an engaging lead, but is given very little to do, apart from a naked woman, the other roles are little more than short cameos. The film is largely made up of arty shots of a very pleasant looking Spain, and some terse dialogue that is repeated, a lot.

It is like one of those conceptual pieces of art, a white canvas or pile of bricks, whatever meaning there is, you largely have to supply yourself. Oddly for a film about letting go creatively, it is bound in a tight formal structure and seldom takes flight.

The cinematography is stunning, the music is very good too, as a whole it is too derivative of earlier Jarmusch, Wim Wenders and Antonioni to really stand on its own two feet as a great film. There is a half decent idea here, but it really needs more scenes like the young children asking Bankole whether he is an American gangster, to make it generally accessible.

Having said all that, I might well watch again, which is more than can be said for some of the turkeys out there.
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Format: DVD
This film was neither dramatic nor thrilling. It is, in fact 116 minutes of pretentious nonsense. There is very little plot or action throughout, so if you think things are going to get more interesting or less repetitive after the first 30 minutes or so, I assure you they aren't. It may well be a an arty film with beautiful cinematography, great actors and the usual underlying metaphors for life/death, but if you like you films with a bit more 'meat', pace and substance, then this isn't for you. I persevered until the end but wish I hadn't bothered. I like films that make you think, but with this I couldn't even be bothered to try and figure out the underlying themes and messages, having been virtually bored to tears by the end. If you read reviews before renting, then I urge you to take heed and choose something more exciting and plot driven. The 1 star is for cinematography and the acting/delivery of the few lines that there were throughout.
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By BrownPolar on 17 Mar. 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The idea behind this experimental film is the repetition of life but with subtle variation, much like Pachelbel's Canon. Although ’The Limits of Control’ has a simple and linear storyline with a beginning and an end, it becomes almost irrelevant in the way it manifests instead in a complex, fascinating, absorbing and therefore engaging visual narrative.

Like any other Jim Jarmusch film, this is not intended for the thrill seeking audiences, but for those who look for something original in each new film and particularly for those who appreciate a more visual approach to modern film making. In the documentary about making this film, Jim Jarmusch says, “it is hard to get lost if you don’t know where you are going”!

BrownPolar
May 2010
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A.D.M. on 24 Aug. 2010
Format: DVD
This has to be the most stylish and impeccably shot film I have had the pleasure of watching, so much care and attention has been lavished on every scene. It feels like a classic movie from another generation in this sense. However, Jarmusch the artist has triumphed over Jarmusch the story teller, which is a shame. Jarmusch has proven in the past that he can tell a wonderful story, but here, the abstract nature takes over. There are threads that tie together, but it is left to the viewer to do all the work, and I am not entirely sure if it is worth it. The visual and aural style lead to a dream like world, and this is hinted at a few times through the film, things do not apppear rooted in reality. Overall, this is a stunning bit of film making, but it is perhaps not the film I was hoping to see.
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