Complete A-Z list

Limits of Control, The


Stars: Isaach de Bankolé, Paz de la Huerta, Gael Garcia Bernal, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Bill Murray, Hiam Abbass, Luis Tosar, Youki Kudoh

Director: Jim Jarmusch

An enigmatic 'thriller' from Jarmusch that brings a whole new dimension to the description 'Slow'. Jarmusch rarely shows us anything for two seconds where 10 will do. But, having said that, the film does carry a certain fascination in seeing its 'story' through to a conclusion.

The only major character is played by Isaach de Bankolé. You perhaps assume he's being hired as a hit-man, although Jarmusch isn't about to confirm your suspicions. Anyway, off he goes on a tour of Spain; his various contacts hand him matchboxes with coded messages inside, which he swallows with one of his (always) two espressos.

Occasionally he's given keys, or, in one instance, diamonds (a payment?). The contacts ask him if he speaks Spanish, to which he answers No. They also repeat such phrases as 'he who thinks he is bigger than the rest...must go to the cemetery.' Occasionally, instructions are more specific, if no less enigmatic, such us 'Wait three days until you see the bread. The guitar will find you.' Motifs recur throughout the stylishly-shot film, as do some of the characters, notably de la Huerta as a girl who always appears in the nude (apart from a transparent raincoat).

That some of these characters are killed off, or kidnapped implies that people are on de Bankolé's trail, although this avenue is never fully explored - only dallied with to baffle us further.

A description of this distinctive film probably makes it sound more entertaining than it is. De Bankolé, a handsomer version of Didier Drogba - unsurprisingly both men come from the Ivory Coast - is a suitably impassive centre to a journey that seems much longer than really necessary.

David Quinlan

USA/Spain 2008. UK Distributor: Revolver. Colour by deluxe.
113 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 07 Dec 2009