Down By LawFeature Film | Jim Jarmusch By Eric Schneider
It is a sad and beautiful world.
A prison-break movie that's almost entirely unconcerned with the actual escape, Down By Law is a fascinatingly pensive and comedic film about three guys with seriously poor decision-making skills. The follow-up to Jim Jarmusch's lauded Stranger Than Paradise, this black-and-white 1986 feature takes a number of elements from that meditative and influential production, most notably actor/musician John Lurie, and makes the brilliant cast additions of singer/songwriter Tom Waits and comedian Roberto Benigni. Starting out in New Orleans, the movie follows laidback pimp Jack (Lurie), disillusioned disc jockey Zack (Waits), and overly genial Italian tourist Bob (Benigni) as they wind up as cellmates due to respective unfortunate incidents. After a Beckett-like stint of jail time, the three misfits manage to sneak out of prison, and go on the run in the wilds of the bayou. With its deliberate pacing and meticulous cinematography, Down By Law thrives on the interplay between the loose Lurie, the gently gruff Waits, and the ever-amiable Benigni, the latter stealing the scene after scene with his hilarious and heavily accented takes on English phrases. ("We are a good egg.") While Jarmusch nods to vintage noir, he has much more on his mind than just a simple genre exercise, and the film's organic existential humor makes it a classic in its own right.
|Down By Law trailer|