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USA 1984
Directed by
Jim Jarmusch
89 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Stranger Than Paradise

Jim Jarmusch’s second film was a huge hit on the art-house circuit and is a pioneer of the whimsically deadpan style of irony that has come to dominate American independent comedy.

Shot on the kind of budget that perfectly matches its subject matter, the film tells the story of a couple of slackers, Willie (John Lurie, who also did the music) and Eddie (Richard Edson) who live on Manhattan's Lower East Side and, togged out like 1940s truck-drivers, spend their days and nights at the track or playing cards. Then Willie’s Hungarian cousin (Eszter Balint) comes to stay. She eventually moves to Cleveland and the boys decide to go and visit her, giving Jarmusch the pretext to segue into a droll road movie that has the trio, after a sojourn with Aunt Lottie (Cecilia Stark) in the frozen semi-industrial fringes of Cleveland, ending up in the wrong part of Florida where they lose all their money gambling before receiving a unexpected windfall.

Although the simple cutting to black at the end of each scene is a tad annoying, one can’t help but admire the dryly-estranged humour and indefatigably downbeat tone of the film which might be described as John Waters meets Ingmar Bergman.




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