Permanent Vacation

Permanent Vacation ★★★½

"I'm a certain kind of tourist. A tourist that's on a permanent vacation." ~ Allie

The first feature film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch shows us aspects of New York City and its Lower East Side residents of the late 1970s that outsiders will probably find surprising. We are presented with scene after scene of empty streets, decaying buildings and bleak alleyways piled high with rubble and overgrown with weeds. We see tenements hardly inviting to roaches, cement stoops occupied by sullen children, and cloudy grey skies framing every view of the dismal cityscape.

It is here in this forlorn environment that we find the film's main character, a slacker named Aloysius "Allie" Christopher Parker (Chris Parker), who tells us of his drifting from point A to point B to point C, untethered by relationships, commitments or ambition. We follow him as he aimlessly roams the urban wasteland, chancing upon various characters who share with him a room, a cigarette, a saxophone solo, a laugh or an amusing story about "The Doppler Effect."

If Jarmusch's objective was to capture the ennui and disillusionment of a segment of Gen X, he did so brilliantly. I also enjoyed the soundtrack, which incorporates oriental percussion with saxophone riffs and ambient street sounds.


Part of my 5 Directors x 5 Unseen Films (2) challenge.

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