A fictional/symbolical war with China is making people go nuts! One of the largest cities in the world is seemingly in ruins and abandoned. Not a single normal person lives here anymore. So what do you do? You board a ship which seemingly seems non-functional too, and perhaps go away! Until seagulls chase you down.
There's a lot to love in Jarmusch's first film. Its lo-fi cinematography on 16 mm is a mellow beauty. The jazzy soundtrack effectively sets up the hazy nomadic trip through NYC. It oozes cool with its hipster aesthetic that Jarmusch continues throughout his career. Godard's influence is apparent. The film is unfortunately very slight and shows it was made on almost no budget. It's good, but it could have been great.
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.
Jarmusch's camera work here is much more developed than the rest of his repertoire. The dialogue sounds better on paper than it does coming from his main character. However, he uses a few stylistic choices that create a feeling of trepidity and desolation both in character and atmosphere: silence, space, and disruption of conventional development. This would have had me excited to see where Jarmusch was going next...
Premier long métrage de Jim Jarmusch, qui confirme talentueusement, par cette oeuvre nonchalante, minimaliste, entre poésie urbaine et nocturne errance, sa parfaite maîtrise d'un cinéma du ressenti, intériorisé et d'une constante présence "affective" ..... www.cinefiches.com
A city background looks so authentic in its obscurity to the point of becoming a surreal, almost nightmarish environment for everlasting daydreaming of the main protagonist, where days float from one to another with occasional narration of existential street philosophy; which serves as a accompanying tune when it's not switched with industrial beats and sounds. A dreadful journey that could might be worth of revisit.