Down by Law - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Down by Law Reviews

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June 22, 2017
Great movie. Really funny at times but also very real.
April 10, 2017
Swings between an awkward theater piece and surprisingly engaging comedy. Something about the film was hard to engage with, so those really on-point moments were hard to trust. I felt like I'd been on a journey by the end, but I had to fight to stay with it.
½ February 22, 2017
I was really interested in this film, and loved the beginning - the way it looked, the scenery, and Tom Wait's "Jockey Full Of Bourbon" playing over it all. And then, thud. Nothing. Super slow, super boring. Maybe it's supposed to be some sort of "arty" film? Sheesh. Anyway, after 40 minutes, I just couldn't continue, especially looking down the barrel of 65 + more minutes of it. :-(
½ January 1, 2017
Brille surtout en raison de Roberto Benigni, autrement le film (quoique magnifique avec sa photographie noir et blanc) est un peu trop vedge selon moi... bref, il faut Ítre dans le bon mood
½ December 8, 2016
Jim Jarmusch's second feature is still one of his best, and it's also possibly the most idiosyncratic prison-break movie ever made. That said, to call Down by Law a "prison-break" movie is a bit of a misnomer, as customary for Jarmusch he has little drive to give us exciting set pieces (we don't even see how they escape), but like a Jack Kerouac novel the point isn't the destination but the trek getting there. As with all of Jarmusch's films, Down by Law is carried by character and dialogue, but they're the two cards that no other American director can really get by with (asides from Tarantino). The film's trio of lovable low-lives all have great chemistry, and Tom Waits fans can rest assured that this is his single best on-screen performance. Always jovial, and featuring a cracking soundtrack supplied by Waits himself, Down by Law feels timeless and essential more than ever.
½ September 22, 2016
Jim Jarmusch's work can be either intimidating or off-putting, and in equal measure, to cinephiles because it feels so relaxed--almost as if it was a spur-of-the-moment, off-the-cuff precursor of reality-TV, an inside-joke with everyone involved slipping a nod and a wink, as if on a drunken dare, a mickey of JD passed back and forth along with a pack of Marlboros. This brought to mind many good memories of one of the oddest residents of The Criterion Collection: 'Fishing with John' (an exemplary and hilarious six-part mini-series in which John Lurie goes on fishing expeditions with five American cinematic greats, his partners-in-crime here, Jarmusch and Tom Waits amongst them; one that I'd love to see both get a blu upgrade as well as more episodes, now 25 years later). Also, clearly Jarmusch had a fine rapport with his actors, for this is by far the best and most restrained work I have ever seen from Roberto Benigni.

One of Jarmusch's more atypical films, 'Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai', is still my personal favourite, but this is right up there alongside. It would also make an intriguing double-bill with Jeff Nichols' stellar, though more serious in tone, recent film, 'Mud'.
½ September 22, 2016
Jim Jarmusch's work can be either intimidating or off-putting, and in equal measure, to cinephiles because it feels so relaxed--almost as if it was a spur-of-the-moment, off-the-cuff precursor of reality-TV, an inside-joke with everyone involved slipping a nod and a wink, as if on a drunken dare, a mickey of JD passed back and forth along with a pack of Marlboros. This brought to mind many good memories of one of the oddest residents of The Criterion Collection: 'Fishing with John' (an exemplary and hilarious six-part mini-series in which John Lurie goes on fishing expeditions with five American cinematic greats, his partners-in-crime here, Jarmusch and Tom Waits amongst them; one that I'd love to see both get a blu upgrade as well as more episodes, now 25 years later). Also, clearly Jarmusch had a fine rapport with his actors, for this is by far the best and most restrained work I have ever seen from Roberto Benigni.

One of Jarmusch's more atypical films, 'Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai', is still my personal favourite, but this is right up there alongside. It would also make an intriguing double-bill with Jeff Nichols' stellar, though more serious in tone, recent film, 'Mud'.
August 1, 2016
Entertaining character study. May need to watch 3-4 more times to give it a higher rating.
April 11, 2016
A flat out good film, perfect for any film lover.
½ February 24, 2016
Coming across, as many Jarmusch films do, as a lengthy series of character sketches rather than a traditionally narrative film, Down By Law doesn't work quite as well as some of his other works, but there is plenty here for the Jarmusch fan and the more general film buff to enjoy, even if that enjoyment is somewhat lightweight.
December 21, 2015
America's introduction to the maniacally brilliant Roberto Benigni! A wonderful cast , great soundtrack and beautifully captured in B & W. Another great film set in the Big Easy.
December 18, 2015
Jarmusch's film about the incarceration and unlikely friendship of three men is a disarmingly funny tale about loneliness and the lies we tell ourselves. The title itself is false, something these three convince themselves of so they don't have to take responsibility for their actions. Lynch-ian surrealism and striking humanity all rolled into one.
½ December 15, 2015
Jim Jarmusch's characters are always small and trivial, but what they do and encounter could touch your soul deeply. Great opening song performed by Tom Waits.
October 9, 2015
quietly observed and beautifully photographed
there's no silence like a jarmusch silence
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
September 30, 2015
Down By Law is another great Jim Jarmusch film. Like the others, you are either going to feel the vibe or you won't. I find myself agreeing with many of the negative reviews -- sometimes the acting feels ad-libbed, sometimes it does feel like it has a student film quality to it, sometimes it does not end up so cool as it wants to be. But then again, so what? The film has an authenticity to it and many great little moments that would probably not be in it if the cast and crew were not going for it. Down By Law is an all-time great comedy adventure.
August 20, 2015
This dry, deadpan comedy plays like a noir fairytale, filmed with tremendous finesse. Jarmusch's unique model of the stylish slow-burner delivers an honesty I haven't seen before. His films have mystique, charisma and a breezy pathos that's more powerful than it seems.
July 29, 2015
Jim Jarmusch's great movie has taken on a new level of importance in the past decade. Not that it wasn't important upon it's initial release. It was. I skipped a day of school and drove my beat-up old Buick to Houston to see an afternoon screening. It felt so vital and new. This was my first Jamusch movie. And what a movie it was.

There is a great difference in seeing this movie through the eyes of an 18 year old and the eyes of a thirty-something --- and an even greater difference viewing it thru the eyes of a fourth-something. Each viewing is rewarding, but age and the passing of time bring this simple, low-budget movie a far deeper level of meaning. Add in the aftermath of Katrina, this is an important portrait of a New Orleans long gone.

John Lurie, Tom Waits and Roberto Benigni (before I found him annoying) are perfectly cast as fictional versions of themselves. Ellen Barkin shows up as well. This is a young Barkin who is already far more talented than her age would suggest.

I remember thinking it funny as she tossed our poor Zack's possessions out the window of their grubby and yet impossibly cool apartment. In my thirties I was in pain for Tom Wait's character. He only has a few things and what she tosses out that window are priceless.

The New Orleans we see was all too familiar to me in 1986. I was bored of South-east Texas and of Louisiana. I wanted out. Back then, New Orleans seemed dangerous and dirty.

I knew Tom Waits as a cool singer/songwriter who had long been creating experimental twists on the blues and jazz. He had dumped Rickie Lee Jones and inspired her to create an entire iconic album. I didn't know who John Lurie was, but he seemed tough and cool. Benigni was a harmless clown.

As these three "true" characters find themselves stuck in a jail cell the naturalistic charm and humor comes to full bloom. We follow them on a simple escape. Now fugitives, we see them argue, bond and joined together as outsiders.

The film rambles it's way to an ending that is as satisfying as it is kind of sad and unsure. Jim Jarmusch is an essential filmmaker. Over the years his eccentricities sometimes veer far deeply into his "hipster cool" -- this, for me, remains his best cinematic moment.

Somewhere in my mind, these three men are still sulking, joking and sliding through their lives. Lives that are far more meaningful that surface view allows.
June 14, 2015
The chemistry between the three main characters carries the movie, with plenty of slapstick moments throughout. Great cinematography as well.
January 15, 2015
If you don't know anything about Jarmusch, this DVD is a great place to start.
January 13, 2015
Good director's vision.
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