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USA 1980
Directed by
Jim Jarmusch
72 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Permanent Vacation

Filmed in 16mm just after the director left film school (he worked for a time as an assistant to Nicolas Ray, hence the laboured homage to the latter's Savage Innocents).

Permanent Vacation, Jarmusch's first feature, although leaning recognisably towards his trademark style (it is shot by one of his regular team Tom Di Cillo, along with James A. Lebavitz, with Jarmusch writing the script and doing the editing), lacks the deadpan black humour and finger-poppin’ r’n’b grooves that he established with his next feature, Stranger Than Paradise (1984) that made him an instant cult celebrity.

Imagine Samuel Beckett had remade West Side Story and you’ve got a pretty good idea of this  picaresque account of a young insomniac Charlie Parker fan, Allie Parker (Chris Parker who debuted as an actor here but who was little seen thereafter), who wanders Manhattan's broken-down Lower East Side and the various people he encounters. Whilst the must be give credit for its po-faced iconoclasm, it is very much a step in the right direction rather than a fully developed work and unfortunately is largely, as Iggy Pop memorably put it, ”No Fun”. Allie is chronically alienated, his mother’s in the nut house, his bored girlfriend ignores him and every encounter confirms the horror of it all.

Permanent Vacation will be of interest to Jarmusch completists and unregenerate armchair cinemasochists but few others.




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