Isaach De Bankole plays a hermetic assassin who is able to resist Paz de la Huerta, shown above sprawled naked on his bed. That is one limit of control that Jim Jarmusch’s film refers to. What I just said was absolute rubbish (maybe not) but here’s another picture of the wonderful Paz.

The film takes certain cues from Melville’s Le Samourai, not unlike Jarmusch’s earlier Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai. Again, it’s a lone man killer story. The opening sequence also had a ride in a taxi cab that had me wondering why I felt like I was watching a Wong Kar Wai film almost. One bit had the taxi coming head on and fading into blur, then shifting and morphing back into focus to displace the idea of time and space. Then I did my homework and realised Christopher Doyle was responsible for the cinematography. Duh.

It’s a shockingly beautiful film. One with a plot that’s paper thin and completely unimportant. The characters aren’t parts of a story. They’re merely pieces of a painting, each one carrying their own subtext about a certain existentialist yearning threaded throughout the film. There’s plenty of big stars in the film, most of them only appearing very briefly, from John Hurt to Joe Strummer to Tilda Swinton to Gael Garcia Bernal and Bill Murray just to name a few. Of course there’s plenty of Paz. And she gets real naked. Which is real nice. Very nice. I think Paz made up 50% of the film for me. Of which 49% belonged to her chesticular region and the other 1% was the glasses. Oh the glasses!

Anyway, right existentialist crap, cultural references yadda yadda yadda. It doesn’t really matter. The film is about form. Well, not quite aesthetic identity in film but it’s a film that’s a concept, an idea. You might watch it and wonder what all the preening and posing and the slo-mo walking and phase shifting and pretentious dialogue is all about. It’s about nothing. It’s unimportant. As the film itself quotes, “La vida no vale nada.”. Life is worth nothing. It’s one of those journey films? No. It’s a film that would have ideally been unframed by space and time. It’s more of a concept played out as an assassin story that’s inhibited by the fact that we require limitations in order to understand something, like an anchor with which to feel secure, in control.

Despite the film being a non film, it’s actually pretty good. It’s slow pace is addled by the drony sounds of Sunn O))) and Boris interspersed with Schubert and some very pretty flamenco. Visually, it’s quite stunning, from floating countrysides to squared on shots in museums and just people walking through streets. It kinda celebrates the unseen beauty that’s always around you but you never care to see.

Melville’s Le Samourai had Alain Delon running around staircases and rooftops and alleys as he navigated Paris. De Bankole in this film navigates things in a similar fashion, only he stays in an apartment complex full of curves. Because of the peculiar interior of the building, it sort of obfuscates the position of the character. You’re not quite sure where he is or what’s going on. Too many times, he’s also framed cut off, at a tight angle, camera slowing moving in to reveal. This isn’t an annoying thing but a cinematographic idea that tries to hint at a more than meets the eye kinda scenario. You also get to see a black man doing Tai Chi, which is classic Jarmusch cultural melding.

Watching this film made me really wanna go to Spain because it looks so beautiful, whether its the cobblestone streets or the countryside or the modernist buildings or the old world charm. It would be too easy to dismiss the film as full of cool shit but plenty of nothing. Because it ain’t. I don’t think it’s the most amazing film I’ve ever seen but it certainly challenges perceptions and limitations.

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