Permanent Vacation ★★½

Jim Jarmusch is one of several filmmakers (David Lynch / Spike Lee) who began their extensive careers during the 1980s in a time of independence from large Hollywood studios. Beginning with Permanent Vacation in 1980.

One of the opening shots of Permanent Vacation depicts a crowd of people moving down the street, common imagery for New York. This shot is notable because it is the first and only one in the film that feels populated, the rest is bare to a level that almost feels like the film is taking place in the apocalypse. Permanent Vacation can thus feel empty as it lacks the character and subtlety that occupy his later films.

The major positive for me was the music of this film which marks the first of several collaborations between Jarmusch and John Lurie of Fishing with John and Lounge Lizards fame. Lurie brings a jazz score that is equally as minimalist as the visuals. Creating a presence that can be described as equally eerie and urban.

Jarmusch would go on to refine and perfect his minimalist style in his later films, building on the humble foundation set by this early effort. Permanent Vacation might be my least favourite Jarmusch project that I have seen to date, but I can appreciate how essential it is in establishing the director's idiosyncratic style.

Kirk (Jean-Pierre) liked this review