Sunday, 15 January 2012
Down by Law 
Jim Jarmusch attained instant renown with the seminal Indie film Stranger than Paradise. Down by Law, his follow-up to the earlier film carried forward a number of thematic strands – the general sense of aimlessness among the protagonists, the rambling narrative, the idiosyncratic tone, an odyssey of sorts taken by the whimsical characters, among others. This unlikely buddy film has three principal characters who have incidentally ended up in the same jail-cell in New Orleans – while Jack (John Lurie), a pimp, and Zack (Tom Waits), a former disk-jockey, have been imprisoned for crimes they haven’t committed, Roberto (Roberto Benigni), a cheerful Italian tourist who, ironically, happens to be the only one among the three who isn’t wrongly accused. Though initially dismissed by Jack and Zack for his nerdish behaviour and oddly funny demeanour, Roberto, or “Bob” as he prefers to be called, turns out to be the most resourceful of the three; he doesn’t just help them escape from the prison, but also provides them with one hell of a lucky break post their directionless travails in the Louisiana bayous. The movie’s distinctive aesthetics was another reason that made it a companion piece to the groundbreaking Stranger in Paradise – the glorious black-and-white photography, the excellent yet low-key background score, the dry and deadpan humour, the fascinating character study of the three rudderless drifters and oddball anti-heroes, the languorous pacing, the strangely infectious character dynamics, so on and so forth. All the three lead actors really owned their characters in this brilliant Jarmusch film, with Roberto Benigni being most delightful to watch for his carefree and malapropism-laden role.
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Genre: Comedy/Existentialist Comedy/Buddy Film/Road Movie