feedingbrett’s review published on Letterboxd:
It is not foreign to me to have Jim Jarmusch create a film where its protagonist would simply wonder the streets and interact with the random strangers that fill them. In different ways, such an aesthetic has been the heart of his filmography, paired with a sense of thematic impact and growth that never surpasses the dormancy of his restrained and measured movement, allowing it to bubble underneath for our minds to dwell, but leaving it entirely up to us on how much of these ideas or concepts are worthy of value.
It is highly unfortunate that I meet Jarmusch’s debut with a slight sense of boredom and hostility, lacking in thematic reverb and substance in characterisation that felt more palpable in his later films. It could be argued that possibly it is in the filmmaker’s lack of confidence of his particular style, possibly needing further reflection and refinement that would find him that perfect note that would be utilised in his later films, but simultaneously there is a stubborn persistency in his direction, a sense of distance in its purpose, a fright of being too obvious — which is ironic since the inner monologues that is found in the film’s bookends shed light on its ideas far more intensely than one would expect from a film that demand such ambiguity and subtle depth.
Permanent Vacation is a film that should have spoken more of its protagonist throughout of his actual journey rather than simply just at its start and end, where each revelations and random stumbles would shed light in that natural manner that Jarmusch seems to crave so much. Interactions between characters would be an entertaining touchstone of Jarmusch’s mode of filmmaking, and in Permanent Vacation, that aspect is almost nowhere to be found. Judging on the recently released films of Jarmusch to his debut, it is certain that he has come a long way, and it is interesting to see the filmmaker at his most rawest form, a voice still yet resistant to the idea of compromise.