Night on Earth

1991

Night on Earth

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

75%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 24

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,535
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Night on Earth Photos

Movie Info

In this strangely compelling film, five entirely different cab rides in five locations around the world are shown unfolding simultaneously. Each ride is fraught with high drama; in one, an effusive Roman driver Roberto Benigni insists on confessing all his sexual encounters, including one with a sheep, to an extremely unwilling priest who inconveniently dies in his cab before his lengthy confession can be completed. Another story follows an encounter which puts the spunky rebel Winona Ryder in contact with the world-weary, matronly casting agent Gena Rowlands, who offers her young driver a chance to join the rich folks and become a movie star. Yet another story takes place between three drunken "celebrants" of a buddy's getting fired in snowy Helsinki, another takes place among African immigrants in Paris, and yet another takes place in New York. Each story strongly evokes a mood of time and place. Unlike most films by the experimental director Jim Jarmusch, this one enjoyed some (mild) popular as well as critical success.

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Cast

Gena Rowlands
as Victoria
Beatrice Dalle
as Blind Woman
Lisanne Falk
as Rock Manager
Alan Randolph Scott
as 1st Rock Musician
Anthony Portillo
as 2nd Rock Musician
Richard Boes
as 1st Cab Driver
Pascal N'Zonzi
as 1st Passenger
Emile Abossolo-M'bo
as 2nd Passenger
Stéphane Boucher
as Man in Accident
Noel Kaufmann
as Man on Motorcycle
Gianni Schettino
as 1st Transvestite
Antonino Ragusa
as 2nd Transvestite
Romolo DiBiasi
as Angry Driver
Donatella Servadio
as Voice of Dispatcher (Rome)
Tomi Salmela
as 3rd Man
Eija Vilpas
as Voice of Dispatcher (Helsinki)
Jaakko Talaskivi
as 1st Factory Worker
Klaus Heydemann
as 2nd Factory Worker
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Critic Reviews for Night on Earth

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (6)

  • Though it may take a while to get Jarmusch's gist, hang in there; by the time Tom Waits growls his lovely closing waltz over the credits, Jarmusch has shown us moments most filmmakers don't even notice.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • With this, his fourth commercially released feature, Mr. Jarmusch again demonstrates his mastery of comedy of the oblique.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/5
  • "Night on Earth" sounds better than it turns out to be.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Unfortunately, Jarmusch's lackadaisical minimalist aesthetic and his chronic lack of energy are the only unifying elements.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • At the end, we have learned no great lessons and arrived at no thrilling conclusions, but we have shared the community of the night, when people are unbuttoned and vulnerable - more ready to speak about what's really on their minds.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Night on Earth dawdles a bit, and a couple of the segments, notably the one in Helsinki, feel like half-baked epiphanies. Throughout, though, there are moments that catch you delightfully off guard.

    Dec 12, 1991 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Night on Earth

  • Jun 07, 2013
    Awesome Jarmusch film which follows five taxi cabs throughout the U.S. and Europe. Despite the visuals being simple and even pale they were blended in perfectly to the surroundings. The dialogue included plenty of hysterical moments. This is the only second film I've seen of Jarmusch (first being Dead Man) and I highly prefer this one. The way this movie was broken up into five short films made it move fast, and keep its up beat character. The acting was genuine, and the two I'd praise the most are Gena Rowlands and Beatrice Dalle. My favorite scene didn't feature either though, and that one is Rome. This one included Roberto Benigni who kept the perverted comedy going in a laugh riot scene. 3.5 stars++
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2012
    Another early attempt at a movie of several pieces to make a whole. This is unique in that one director - Jim Jarmusch is at the helm. The results are varried. I think it starts off with a poor piece with Winona Ryder and the Finn ending is far too dark as a conclusion. The highlight is Roberto Benigni's ride with a priest.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2011
    **** out of **** Jim Jarmusch understands human beings. The way I see it, he has lived out his life observing them; forever fascinated by the things they say, the ways in which they move, and how they think. A born filmmaker; he brings his general interest in mankind to the screen with much passion. It's what he's been doing since "Stranger Than Paradise" and "Mystery Train"; and it's what he's doing in "Night on Earth" - which is one of my personal favorites from the director. It's an anthology film told in five acts; each one bearing both differences and similarities in both setting and characters (they all take place in taxi cabs and depict the relationship/bond shared between driver and passenger). This is not much unlike "Mystery Train"; which only took about three separate anthology pieces to tell the story - but at least it doesn't feel as if Jarmusch is filling his vision to the top with ideas that he can't properly execute. He has one main focus and his grasp is - to say the least - rather tight. Part one of five - the driver is Corky (Winona Ryder), the passenger is Hollywood executive Victoria Snelling (Gena Rowlands), and the city is Los Angeles. When the journey begins, it is the evening; the taxi ride goes well into the night. Since there isn't much to do in a cab (unless you've got a cellular phone, like Victoria does *shocker*); the two women decide to engage in some prolonged, thoughtful chats. Initially off-put by Corky's tomboyish and often times unfiltered - vulgar - attitude; Victoria soon learns to appreciate the youngster, and once they arrive at their destination, Jarmusch finds it the perfect moment for an honest, all too human end-of-the-road dialogue exchange between these two characters; and for the night, it shall be their last. The city is now New York. A determined black man - whose name is revealed to be "Yo Yo" (Giancarlo Esposito) - calls for just a single cab to pick him up, even when the city that never sleeps happens to be filled with them. Not one will pick him up; it's most likely a racial thing, in this instance. But then, one taxi pulls over and the driver - an older man with the peculiar name of Helmut Grokenberger (Armin Mueller-Stahl) - offers Yo Yo a lift. He accepts, but then considers declining the offer any further when he discovers the position of his driver; an immigrant from Slovakia with little experience as a taxi driver and much more as a clown in his homeland. Like the first unlikely two taxi-occupants, these two get increasingly bored over time and find solace in each-other through conversation. And as can be expected from Jarmusch - a talented and inspired storyteller - the dialogue is engaging. Smack dab in the middle we've got Paris, France. We open on the driver (Isaach De Bankole) - who goes unnamed - as he is harassed by two businessmen, and think of it, in the comfort of his own cab! He kicks them out, leaves them in the streets, and looks for new business; ultimately finding it in a blind woman (Beatrice Dalle), with whom he would much like to swap personal life philosophies. But she's a tough cookie; and it isn't going to be particularly easy to reach her. The driver - who is from the Ivory Coast - will find that the racial gap between the two is larger and far more significant than initially predicted. Next to last, we end up in Rome, Italy. From the clocks that are shown between each individual segment (and in the beginning of the film), we learn that it is early morning. The cab driver in the fourth part of the story is Gino (Roberto Benigni). He spends his nights and early mornings having lonely - but very funny - conversations with the two-way radio; in which he describes disturbing - but again, quite amusing - sexual fantasies. After his first attempt at this, he finally finds himself a customer; a priest (Paolo Bonacelli). Things just get even weirder than they already were once the priest steps into the cab; as Gino decides this would be a good time to confess his sins to the holy man - some of which include sexual encounters with pumpkins and sheep, and a romantic affair with his brother's wife. His description of such things proves too much for the priest; in the end leaving the driver in a sticky situation. Finally, we arrive in Helsinki; where taxi driver Mika (Matt Pellonpaa) feels as desolate and alone as any cab driver working the late night shift; that is until he assigns himself to picking up three good ol' boys. And while one of them is far from OK mentally or physically, they're still, well, good ol' boys. You see, the one who isn't quite right has just had the worst day of his life; he lost his job, his car, his wife, and his daughter is pregnant. It would seem that his buddies tried to aid him and ultimately drowned their collective sorrows in alcohol; which, as we can see, lead to not much of anything at all. However, in telling their friend's sad story; Mika decides to share his own, which is melancholic on a whole new level - but at the same time, entirely heartfelt. I've said too much about each fifth that makes up the film's plot; I just couldn't help myself. Now you know all that you NEED to know if you plan on watching this film; which is, in my opinion, a triumph in the understanding of human nature. The dialogue is rich and very...real. The situation are believable and often times, they have some sort of payoff which comes in both the emotional and intellectual variety. As with the best films from writer-director Jarmusch; "Night on Earth" has a philosophy and a purpose, both of which run deep in spite of the lack of a "moral message". But...must all films have one? I don't think so; of course, a pointless film is needless, but one that is good on its own without a distraction of message-making is just fine by me. For fans of Jarmusch, this one pulls very few punches; it's what you'd expect from one of modern independent cinema's pioneers. You will either find each segment intoxicating and involving or slow and plodding. But that is, ultimately, where the beauty is at.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2011
    With this collection of shorts Jarmusch still has done no wrong. I especially love the first sequence with Gena Rowlands and Winona Ryder as well as the sequence with Giancarlo Esposito and Rosie Perez.
    Graham J Super Reviewer

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