Friday, August 20, 2010

Permanent Vacation

Permanent Vacation; Drama, USA, 1980; D: Jim Jarmusch, S: Chris Parker, Leila Gastil, John Lurie

New York. Teenage Allie lives in a shabby apartment with his girlfriend Leila. His father left him and his mother is in a mental asylum. He walks around the streets aimlessly, meeting a war veteran, a popcorn girl and a street musician. He eventually steals a car and sells it for 800 $. He then buys himself a ticket for a boat trip to Paris, as some sort of a "permanent vacation" from his life.

The feature length directorial debut film by Jim Jarmusch, the cult director who influenced the independent film genre tremendously, the 72 minute grey drama "Permanent Vacation" is, just like most of his films, a demanding and not so accessible - for the wider audience almost frustrating - drama about outsiders, but it does not have that spark that carries his best films. In almost every minimalistic film, the primary goal is to find a good balance in when something is going on and when nothing is going on - and here only the opening act is great, featuring numerous slow motion scenes of passerbys in New York inter-cut with empty streets, as well as Allie's genius opening monologue, about how "new people are like new rooms: at first they seem interesting and fascinating, but after a while you just feel trapped". The rest is an empty walk. Jarmusch portraits his realistic and relevant view of people without a past or a future, yet in this case we just got the sole message without the juicy parts that makes all those good films interesting and fascinating to watch. However, the film is rarely bland and makes for a solid exercise of the author.


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