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The Limits of Control (2009)

Isaach De Bankole , Alex Descas , Jim Jarmusch  |  R |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Isaach De Bankole, Alex Descas, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Oscar Jaenada, Luis Tosar
  • Directors: Jim Jarmusch
  • Writers: Jim Jarmusch
  • Producers: Stacey Smith, Gretchen McGowan
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: November 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002P7UCBI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,670 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Limits of Control" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Acclaimed filmmaker Jim Jarmusch delivers a stylish and sexy new thriller about a mysterious loner (De Bankolé) who arrives in Spain with instructions to meet various strangers, each one a part of his dangerous mission. Featuring an all-star international cast that includes Isaach De Bankolé, Gael García Bernal, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray, it’s a stunning journey in an exotic Spanish landscape that simmers with heat and suspense.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars transcendence of the ego February 26, 2010
Okay, for all you who say this film is about nothing, I'd like to give you my take on it. Now, I'm not saying that Jarmusch consciously intended this as an interpretation - I have no way of knowing what he was thinking other than the images that he and Christopher Doyle put together. I do think, though, that the artist is often used by the unconscious to communicate what is very difficult to put in words. Here's what I got from this beautiful, mysterious work.

In the film, "The Limits of Control", the lead character, "The Lone Man", is an existenialist hero. He is both detached and disciplined and through his spontaneity and openness to "imagination" he is able to follow his intuition and slay the tyrannical ego, "the American", played by Bill Murray. In both the personal sense and a societal sense (as embodied by the giant corporation) the ego has become an instrument of control run amok - one that crushes the individual and all creativity (mankind's artistic, intuitive side)... he is the ultimate imperialist. The ego, in its overwhelming narcissism, is above all else fearful of its demise and loss of control. "The American" (the ego) creates a fortress, or citadel of defenses to keep out any perceived threats to his dominance and unnatural pretense of immortality. "The American" has literally surrounded himself in an armed fortress, overrunning with hired guards and a flawed sense of security - all to prop up his inflated self-worth. What this does is mask his basic vulnurability and fear of death. He places his toupee (or vanity) on the skull that sits on his desk of authority.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Limits of Visual Narrative May 9, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Limits" DOES tell a story. It has a plot, almost the same plot really as many films about assassination. An impassive, relentless,'professional' hit man is commissioned by a syndicate to kill a big shot of another syndicate. The 'hit' requires him to make contact witha series of strangers who present him with crucial info, presumably about the location of his target. The strangers are bizarre. The mission proceeds to its climax, as it has been obvious that it would from the first scene.

However, there's no explication. No context. We have no idea who wants whom killed, or for what reason, and we never learn. Likewise, we have no reason to care, no favorites as it were, no complicating empathy for the killer or sympathy for his target. The whole verbal script for this film could be typed on a single flash card, and if its insistent repetitions were deleted, half the flash card would be blank. There is nothing in this film to engage the viewer's involvement. It's a pure ballet of cinematography, a narrative as abstract as a painting by Mondrian.

In other words, it's a tour de force by director Jim Jarmusch, a manifestation of his "limits" of cinematic control. An experiment in which the viewer is the arbiter of success, as of course the viewer must be. If it works for you, it works. Period. I rather suspect that the vast majority of viewers will denounce this film as boring beyond belief, and for them, it surely is. I stayed the course, as cold-bloodedly as the killer did. I've given MYSELF five stars for perseverance in the quest for artistry.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting neo-noir May 5, 2009
The Limits of Control
dir Jim Jarmusch 2009

5* Haunting neo-noir

I just saw a preview of this film last night, and ... wow. Very Jarmuschian, very Doyle'ish. Yes, legendary Wong Kar-Wai cinematographer Chris Doyle shot this, and it was an inspired fit. Visually, the film is beautiful as we tour Spain from the cities to the remote country, yet at the same time brooding and ominous.

Which was suitable, since the overall effect of this film is definitely noir. Mysterious goings on, presumably unlawful; suspenseful music; a morally ambiguous central character; the aforementioned brooding and ominous landscape; even a flamenco rehearsal reminiscent of the almost obligatory nightclub scenes in classic noir.

Structurally, the film is simple. A Lone Man (played with impeccable detachment by Isaach De Bankole') arrives in Madrid. He is contacted, given brief and cryptic instructions, and goes on to make the next contact. At each stage, he orders two espressos, "in separate cups", opens a matchbox to find a folded square of paper with a few numbers and letters on it (coordinates?), which he memorizes and destroys; he has some task such as "find the violin"; he hangs out for a while, always ordering two separate espressos, until he is contacted, given a pass phrase; has a few cryptic words and exchanges his matchbox for a new one, and sets off on the next phase. At each stage there is a small cast of sharply drawn characters, cameos really ... the flamenco performers; or a cafe waiter impatient with his habits; or the beautiful, naked, and seemingly very willing (though we're never sure just what game she's playing), young woman (Paz de la Huerta) who shows up in his hotel room.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A true tribute to the genre
An absolute treasure. When you think all the true art of suspense filmmaking has been lost to CGI, Action scenes that drown the plot, and dialogue that is dumbed down for a masses... Read more
Published 2 days ago by john doe
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Movie
I felt as if I were watching a movie that was also a painting, or a painting in motion--hard to describe. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Babychub
5.0 out of 5 stars wierd
An unusual treatment of an assassination story. The star, Isaach De Bankole is shown as He makes His way through the Spanish countryside on His way to His appointment with the... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Norman A. West
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Engaging
Put simply, this movie is ambiguous. Nothing quite fits together neatly. It's left to our interpretation of sparse clues, about the story, and the characters, and how they all fit... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mike Ice
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Jarmusch Zen with plenty of humor
I am a huge fan of Jarmusch- a breath of fresh air in the otherwise rather stale atmosphere of Hollywood movies- bold scripts and risk taking have been since long eradicated from... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Urmuz
1.0 out of 5 stars Artsy Tripe
Everyone responsible for this movie needs to sell everything they own and work their way around the world doing odd jobs for 3 years. Read more
Published 4 months ago by T Warwick
3.0 out of 5 stars Different
Limits of Control is definitely not for everyone. It is very weird and offbeat. Basically a hit man walks around the city, meets with strangers who give him instructions, Paz De... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mike S.
4.0 out of 5 stars Continued puzzlement
Tension exists up until the last scene. What's on the papers he eats? What's in the final matchbox? Who is controlling the operation? Why did they kill off Paz in the end? Read more
Published 10 months ago by winenut
5.0 out of 5 stars Good purchase.
I was very happy to own this film on DVD, after saving it on my DVR system for the longest. The delivery and timeliness was beyond my expectations. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Joseph F. Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars Introducing Jim Jarmlynch
Limits of Control is easily the least "Jarmusch" of the Jarmusch films.

Sure, many of his signature Jarmischian elements are in place: deliberate pacing, use of static... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Fez Monkey
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