The Limits of Control


Action / Crime / Drama / Mystery / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten43%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled43%
IMDb Rating6.21020528

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN


Top cast

Tilda Swinton Photo
Tilda Swinton as The Blonde
Bill Murray Photo
Bill Murray as The American
Gael García Bernal Photo
Gael García Bernal as The Mexican
Hiam Abbass Photo
Hiam Abbass as The Driver
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.01 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 56 min
P/S 0 / 4
1.82 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 56 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by rasecz9 / 10

Slow-paced and captivating political mystery with a subterranean anarchist impulse

The plot of this film develops like good minimalist music. A pleasant tune repeated over and over with minor variations. For a film such as "The Limits of Control", the number of repetitions may seem excessive, but they are essential in building a subtle interpretation that crystallizes at the end. At every repetition a different actor or actress interacts with the hero. Notice their continent or country of origin: African, Haitian, French, Spaniard, English, Japanese, Mexican, Palestinian, even an American. I may have gotten some of the nationalities wrong, but the crucial point is that they represent a diverse sampling of the world population. What do they have in common? They are all working together for a common purpose. Their enemy is revealed at the end. Arrogant, imperialistic, trying to control everyone and everything on this earth. Its symbolic representations in the film may not be picked up early on, but by the end one can easily replay its omnipresence right from scene one.

It should be easy to understand the political message before the curtains come down, but just to be sure, the final call to arms that accompanies the credits makes obvious the film's anarchist leaning. In this there is a delightful irony. For a story whose overarching philosophy is the destruction of excessive control in the world, the minimalist plot development is controlled to a precise degree. The steely hero is a model of self-control, precise habits, and consistent suits. Each stage in the travels of the hero is almost a replay of the previous state: the same two espressos, the same Boxeur matchbox but for alternating red and green, the same hiding place for secret messages, the similar three lined letters-and-numbers coded message, the same method of disposing of the message, the same introductory question and similar subsequent culture-laced monologue we eventually come to expect from each co-conspirator cameo.

Superimposed on this repetitive structure are the cultural references. Some are clearly meant to be humorous and subject to additional interpretation. The best for me what a wig wearer who uses a skull to hold the wig when not in use. A camera close up reveals this to be the cadaverous head of Andy Warhol.

Art plays a part. Our hero is a museum goer. It is natural to suspect that each visit to the museum to see one particular work of art whose subject matches a prop that will be used to contact the next co-conspirator serves a purpose. Are these part of the secret instructions? I think the answer is given by the last visit to the museum. The piece is a white sheet covering an underlying canvas. We don't know what is painted on that canvas. We only see the white sheet. Precisely! There is nothing that needs to be seen. That's the point for that stage in the film. Well done!

There are bits of cinema commentary that I saw as poking fun at Hollywood. The multiplex crowd expects James Bond to get in bed with the first beauty that crosses his path; our hero does not do sex while working. The same crowd wants guns to be used; our hero dumps the only gun in the film in the trash bin. The crowd cares to see the hero fight to get his quarry; our hero never fights, corners his quarry with imagination and we never see how he does it. The crowd is thrilled by lots of silly threatening dialogue and much action before good vanquishes evil; our hero is terse and wastes little time. The typical Hollywood villains have to be at least equal and often more cunning than the good guys so that the battle is suspenseful; our villain is a bumbling fool who gets trapped by his own paranoia-driven security apparatus. And so on. It's the anti-Hollywood film par excellence. No wonder it does not do well with that crowd.

Commentary on cinema culture is also there. When a cell phone rings inside the bag of a co-conspirator, our hero takes the phone, throws it on the floor and stomps on it. Ah, quiet! I wish I could do the same to all the electronic gadgets with their bright screens that more and more people are using during movie screenings.

In short, there is more than meets the eyes here. The film is made enjoyable by the need keep track of three components. One, the easiest, following the plot, which is simple and advances slowly. Two, picking up the political message, which is mostly done late. Three, deciphering the asides and symbolic clues that are peppered throughout.

If that were not enough, add to the overall enjoyment superb cinematography and delectable music. And don't be upset by the occasional pessimist view on the human condition. When the guitar player concludes his monologue with "La vida no vale nada," you'll come to understand it later. (And by way there is no accompanying legend.)

A final word for those cinephiles in the Third World. Remember how you felt at the end of the closing scene of the film "Queimada", when Brando gets it? "The Limits of Control" will make you relive it.

Reviewed by nogodnomasters6 / 10


The movie is slow with very little action, and dialogue which repeats itself with every new matchbox. A quiet unnamed man meets with two guys, at an airport, who give him very little instructions. They send him to Spain to meet people in order to get information which he must piece together. Our loner (De Bankole) carries along a simple carry-on bag but has 3 changes of suits that are never wrinkled. He wears a different colored suit in each city. He drinks espresso with two cups, making him easy to identify to his contacts. He does Tao-Chi at night, most likely to relax from all that caffeine. The airport is symbolic of the gateway where souls pass.

The contact code phrase is "You don't speak Spanish, right?" spoken in Spanish. The counter phrase is "No." Once contact has been established, the contact talks about life and uses a phrase from the original airport conversation. At this point they swap matchboxes. Our loner then opens the box and pulls out a small piece of paper with numbers and letters on it, some sort of code. From what I gather he quickly deciphers the code mentally, afterward he eats it. Symbolic for man getting hints or clues from God, but not knowing what they are. Early on he meets a woman (the one in glasses on the back of the box) who is naked in his hotel room. Her clothes allergy remains for several days as our loner refrains from sex. Symbolic of birth, or maybe the teen years.

The characters he meets get older and give him different advice, eventually he gets a quiet ride (symbolic of the hearse) after a cemetery and dirt speech. Here his death is symbolized in a large building with the furniture covered. He then has his final confrontation (PLOT SPOILER) where he uses his "imagination" to pop into a guarded fortress and kill the "controller" a symbol for God, played by Bill Murray. Or perhaps we are symbolically killing Bill Murray for all the stinker movies he has been in as late.

Our loner returns to the airport where he puts away his bag with 3 suits, exits and steps into the light, most likely symbolic of reincarnation.

There is no real action. There is full frontal nudity, but no sex. Tlda Swinton, one of the more interesting characters talks about movies. This should open up the life metaphor. Later you see her escorted by two men in black suits with sun glasses (they represent grim reapers). God watches over us through a black helicopter.

If this movie isn't a metaphor for life, then it is just a lousy film.

Reviewed by dbborroughs7 / 10

You don't speak Spanish, right?

Jim Jarmusch's latest film is either going to strike you as brilliant or mind numbing and tedious. In a weird way its a return to the art house films from Europe in the 60's and 70's.

The film begins with a man meeting two others who send him off on a mission of some sort. Along the way he sits drinks two espressos in cafés and meets people who sends him on to the next part of his trip. Its hypnotic and philosophical and more often then not, nothing happens.

If it doesn't click with you you will want to turn it off or walk out of the theater or something depending upon how you're viewing it. If it does click with you it will be a great zen mediation on life, dreams, perception and finding patterns. I liked the film. I completely understand why the reviewers I read when the film had its brief theatrical run were split. This doesn't behave like films do now and it messed with some of their heads. I understand why the studio didn't give this as big a run as other of Jim Jarmusch's films because even by his standards its a bit atypical. For me its weird hybrid of Dead Man Waking Life and some of Werner Herzog's films, or at least sequences where he marries incredible music and image. What does the film mean? I don't have a clue. Its a strange film with an odd comic sense (everyone is always asking our hero "you don't speak Spanish, right?" in Spanish and then proceeding to talk to him at length. Its beautiful film that really belongs in a picture frame.

I'm at a loss to explain it or my feelings towards it.

If you're willing to go with the silence and the lack of explanation I recommend it at least as a rental.

Its a trip.

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