Permanent Vacation (1980)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.  

USA, 1980.  Cinesthesia ProductionsScreenplay by Jim Jarmusch.  Cinematography by Tom DiCillo, James A. Lebovitz.  Produced by Jim Jarmusch.  Music by Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie.  Film Editing by Jim Jarmusch. 

Jim Jarmusch debuts with an esoteric indie made soon after his dropping out of film school.  Chris Parker stars as an aimless young man wandering the gritty streets of New York and reacting to the colourful characters he interacts with. Visiting his institutionalized mother and dealing with his fractured relationship with his girlfriend provoke him out into abandoned alleyways and run-down buildings where he encounters, among others, a war veteran, a musician and an unhinged woman sitting outside her stoop. The blueprint is here for the way that Jarmusch would make films in the future, particularly creating characters with an original beat who are never silly or cartoonish, as well as developing a visual style that is already expressive and curious (it’s easy to see why he inspired a cult following almost from the very beginning of his career). His narrative strength, however, would improve vastly in subsequent projects like Down By Law, this one’s protagonist is opaque and Parker’s performance is not very interesting, while the loose manner of storytelling makes for what feels like a very long seventy minutes.

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