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Down by Law


“It is a sad and beautiful world!"

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Jim Jarmusch's third feature after Permanent Vacation and Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law remains one his most beloved – a deadpan, black-and-white comedy with an all-star cast. In a New Orleans prison cell, three men hatch a plan to break out. They haven't met before their arrests, and their personalities (and crimes) couldn't be more disparate. Zack (Tom Waits), a DJ, and Jack (Jarmusch stalwart John Lurie), a pimp, take an instant disliking to each other, while their Italian tourist/ chatterbox cellmate Bob (Roberto Benigni) urges them to escape with him out of the clink, into the surrounding swamp and towards uncertain freedom.

Why See This Film

Described by The New York Times as a "fable of poetic density", Down By Law was the first of many collaborations between Jarmush and cinematographer Robby Müller, who had just shot Paris, Texas with Wim Wenders. Also migrating from that film to this formative creative crew was assistant director Claire Denis. And did we mention actress and Benigni's future wife Nicoletta Braschi makes an appearance? While musicians John Lurie and Tom Waits star, Lurie also wrote the score and a few songs from Waits' iconic album Rain Dogs feature too. To summarise: a lot of cool people came together to create a very cool movie.

Jim Jarmusch
Tom Waits, John Lurie, Roberto Begnini
107 minutes

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