And now I close out another director on the list. Before starting this blog, I had never seen a Jim Jarmusch film and now I am on my third. After Stranger Than Paradise I was a bit reluctant to cross of his final film – and when this started I had that reluctance justified as it felt that Down By Law was going in a similar direction. Then Roberto Benigni made his first appearance on screen and things improved from there.
Down By Law is an interesting film because it feels like Jarmusch took the characters from three quite different films and put them together in a jail break movie. You have Tom Wait’s Zack who feels like he would have belonged in Stranger Than Paradise, Jack feels more like a character from a John Cassavetes film and then there is Roberto… who is from some sort of fish out of water comedy where the lead accidentally kills someone in self-defense.
There are two things in this film which are undeniable. First is the chemistry between the three leading actors, which is so evident when they are trapped in prison together and making conversation about not a lot. Then there is the beautiful slow shots of New Orleans and the Louisiana swamps which, in the crisp black and white of the film, look absolutely stunning. It probably made a better case for how interesting this area is to film than the full blown animation of The Princess and the Frog.