Each of Jarmusch’s films leading up to Night on Earth had dealt to some degree with urban disconnect and the possibility of cross-cultural communication—a tendency that climaxed with this set of five taxicab vignettes set in L.A., New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki. Tonally, Night on Earth veers from broad comedy—Roberto Benigni telling increasingly outré yarns from his sexual history—to more sober territory. The final story, following a bereaved Helsinki cab driver and his three drunken passengers, is at once deeply sad and laced with some very black Scandinavian humor. Along the way, we encounter a handful of Jarmusch’s most indelible characters: Béatrice Dalle’s blind Parisian and her stone-faced Ivoirien driver (Isaach De Bankolé); Armin Mueller-Stahl’s German clown-turned-cabbie, still learning how to drive an automatic; Winona Ryder’s chain-smoking aspiring mechanic and the casting agent who tries to court her into showbiz (Gena Rowlands). One of Jarmusch’s warmest films, Night on Earth is still the director’s fullest attempt at making a cinema free of national borders.

Screening with:

Tom Waits – I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
Jim Jarmusch | 3m