Down by Law
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Jim Jarmusch follows his groundbreaking Stranger Than Paradise with another rambling, character-driven film with a twisted sense of humor. Set in a seedy New Orleans summer, Down By Law details the meeting of three unlikely convicts and their just as unlikely escape. Zack (Tom Waits) is an out-of-work DJ who is accused of murder when a body is found in the trunk of a stolen car he was hired to drive across town. Jack (John Lurie) is a pimp set up for a fall by a competitor. These two sullen souls are locked in a cell with Roberto (Roberto Benigni), a cheerful Italian immigrant who happens to… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The Jim Jarmusch penchant for off-the-wall characters and odd situations is very much in evidence."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"The excitement (of Down by Law) comes from the realization that we are seeing a true film maker at work, using film to create a narrative that couldn't exist on the stage or the printed page of a novel."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
"Perhaps it's not what you expect from a prison movie, but Jim Jarmusch has always adhered to his own personal vision."
‑ Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis
"Every single incident in the film is meaningful."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"More cheerful than Stranger Than Paradise, this movie plays a reversal on the Hollywood comedy in which a high-spirited American usually brings joy to a foreigner; here it's Italian Roberto Benigni."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"On the whole I've had more fun in Cleveland."
‑ Pat Graham, Chicago Reader
"A true original that kind of grows on you."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"[An] odd, funny, strangely mesmerizing three-part comedy."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Director-writer Jarmusch's characters are insignificant antiheroes adrift in an America that is both sad and beautiful."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Not as good as it should be."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"After the initial establishment of character and atmosphere, the laughs come thick and fast, most notably from the marvellous [Roberto] Benigni."
‑ , Time Out
"Pure pleasure for comedy connoisseurs."
‑ Rita Kempley, Washington Post
"Stylish hipster comedy that delivers the laughs."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Its soul is the same as all Jarmusch films, but here he digs a bit deeper into the roots of his own methodology and that to which he is opposed."
‑ Derek Smith, Cinematic Reflections
"If you don't know anything about Jarmusch, this DVD is a great place to start."
‑ Matt Langdon,
More reviews for Down by Law on Rotten Tomatoes