Jay Taylor-Jones’s review published on Letterboxd:
They say first impressions are massively important and, if they are telling of the thing you're getting your first impression of, I'm pretty sure I'm going to love the rest of Jim Jarmusch's filmography.
Gritty, unrestful and spectacularly shot, Permanent Vacation is top tier student filmmaking. The things that happen in this film seem so nuanced you'd think it would be a second or third film. I'm a sucker for low-budget productions like this because of how they can get away with being so rough around the edges, I love that they have a very defined look and atmosphere, which this certainly fits into.
Though the performances are by no means wonderful, the dialogue and the antics of Allie really entertained me. The character embodied the brilliant 'I don't belong' mentality perfectly, with adolescent awkwardness, which could have been purposeful or simply tackiness, and an adult mindset that reminded me of someone from a Wes Anderson film. The way Allie interacted with the environment he was in, the people he was with and the time he lived in intrigued me. It inspired me.
As I mentioned, I thought the way this film was shot was brilliant. I adored the aesthetic of the film so much. It matched the setting so well; the grain and the grunge was a perfect match for the rundown and tired parts of the city Jarmusch chose to show. It was an instance of fantastic convenience or making what you've got work, whichever it was, it worked wonderfully. Without the look of the film, it would look wrong, it wouldn't have the incredible feeling of hopelessness, it would lose that sordidity that it translates to the viewer so well. It wouldn't be Permanent Vacation.
After this, I am really looking forward to the rest of Jarmusch's work. After this film, I already have a large amount of respect for the man. I'm sure this was the beginning of a really interesting career.