Permanent Vacation

Permanent Vacation ★★½

I’m a bit torn on this one.

I am a huge fan of Jarmusch and decided to rewatch his filmography from the beginning and realized that I had never seen (or heard) of this film. I think I know why. It’s his first feature film, and although only clocking in at 1hr 15min, it felt an eternity long. I think it’s because not much happens in this film, or at least, nothing cohesively happens that would really entail this film to have a “plot.” Basically this film tracks a day of a man walking around late 1970s New York and all the people he meets on the streets and in the places he goes to. We are given snippets of who our main character is, but not enough to understand him or really empathize with him. And I think that’s the point. I think that this film is really just a film to show what Manhattan was like at that point in time, and the people that influenced Jarmusch (I.e. Charlie Parker, James Baldwin, James Dean, etc.). I don’t know if it’s a love letter to New York, or just a portrait of how filthy and vile it was back in the 70s, but it was definitely interesting nonetheless. It also reminded me how lonely New York City is, and how isolating it can feel here.

From an acting stand point, the acting was pretty weak, especially from the main character which made it a bit hard to follow at times. I will say though, I loved the beginning of this film, the opening monologue, the dance scene, the scene with the Saxophone Player, and the scenes in the movie theatre. The score was also haunting.

Will I ever watch this again? Probably not.

Would I recommend this to people to see? No. It’s definitely experimental and not very accessible to most mainstream viewers. However, if you are into Avant Garde, Low Budget, and Experimental Cinema, you may really like this.

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