2 1/2 out of 5 stars. Permanent Vacation had good stretches and slow ones. You can tell it was Jarmusch's first feature even through the unevenness. Overall it just felt like a series of random scenes connected by an annoying protagonist. The short running time helped but non-Jarmusch fans needn't bother.
Hypnotic, strange, sad and kind of lovely. Made up more of moments and scenes than something completely coherent. The score was perfect and haunting making the film almost feel ghost like with the central character drifting from scene to scene. Not one of Jarmusch's strongest, but I didn't expect that for a first feature. Overall, some pacing issues but this was an absolutely fascinating watch.
The most endearing entry in Jarmusch's filmography, Permanent Vacation's sweet, soulful awkwardness compares favorably to the hipper-than-thou posturing so prevalent in the director's next few films, ambling along with jazz-addled depressive Allie Parker as he drifts through a "post-war" NYC, unable to connect to anything and vexed in his attempts to elevate his disconnect to the level of a heroic personal mythology.
This film has a haunting and foreboding feel to it that is completely different from the rest of Jarmusch's films (that I've seen). Although there is little to no plot, the sheer atmosphere and feel of the film makes it great in my opinion.
With its repetitive narration based on variations (and supported by a non-narrative use of music) "Permanent Vacation" containes the basic principles of all Jarmusch films. I admire Jarmusch's consequent exploration of these means until his present day films.
Jim Jarmusch's first feature effort may ultimately be just a pretentious student film, but it has enough strangely compelling and inspired moments to keep it interesting, particularly in its stark depiction of underground New York. Jarmusch would go on to make much better films, but this is an interesting look at his budding talent.
A little raw but all the Jarmusch hallmarks are here. I had a problem with Chris Parker though. He just wasn't strong enough to carry this film. But, the scene with Frankie Faison and his "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" story was wonderful, along with the way Lurie dissected the piece with his sax later on the street.