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NIGHT ON EARTH, 1991
Movie Review

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NIGHT ON EARTH,  MOVIE POSTERNIGHT ON EARTH, 1991
Movie Reviews

Directed Jim Jarmusch

Cast: Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez, Isaach De Bankolť
Review by Omer Kula


SYNOPSIS:

An anthology of 5 different cab drivers in 5 American and European cities and their remarkable fares on the same eventful night.

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REVIEW:

Filmmaking is not just a full time job for Jim Jarmusch. At least it wasnít until mid 90s. When you watch any of his films you can easily see that they are having fun. Thatís Jarmuschís key to a good film. Before Night on Earth Jim Jarmusch had another story to shoot (Dead Man), but because of the financial problems he decided to postpone it. Then he wrote another script just in eight days, and that was Night on Earth.

The best way to analyze this film is to appreciate it as five short films, which makes a consistent feature at the end. Jarmusch shot the film in five different locations, He chose those locations according to actors whom he wanted to work with at the time. Most of them are his close friends and after watching the film it is easy to say that this film is a film that made by couple of fellows. Probably Jarmusch was bored of big production companies and he just wanted to have fun. As a result he. again, made a unpretentious but uniquely warm film about life itself. Now itís time to mention those five unique stories.

The first story takes place in Los Angeles. We know that Jarmusch has a special interest in city life. In this film starting from Los Angeles you can feel the big citiesí atmosphere while watching. The first episode has Winona Ryder as a taxi driver and Gene Rowlands as her client. Gene Rowlands is a casting director who is trying to find a new talent. Winona Ryder is a taxi driver who doesnít seem to care too much and at the end Victoria Snelling (Gene Rowlands) tries to communicate with her driver. She sees something different in this girl and she thinks that Corky(Winona Ryder) can be Ďthe oneí. At the end of their trip Victoria asks Corky whether she wants to be a movie star or not. Corky rejects this offer without hesitating. This episode has a simple theme. Maybe most of the people want to be movie stars but on the other hand some of them knows that they are better in other jobs (such as driving a cab or mechanics) and they have nothing to do with showbiz.

New York is the city of second episode. In this one the actors are Giancarlo Esposito as YoYo, Armin Mueller-Stahl as Helmut and Rosie Perez as Angela. Helmut is the taxi driver and this is the first night on his job. He doesnít know how to drive actually and he lets Yoyo to sit on the driver seat. While they were driving to Brooklyn they pick up Yoyoís sister-in-law, Angela. They began to fight in the cab. Actually the only thing they do is to curse each other and Helmut as a foreigner enjoys this conversation. This one is a typical Jarmusch story about a foreigner who tries to become adapted to American life style.

The third story which takes place in Paris is full of ironies. First the taxi driver (Isaach de Bankole) has two customers who make fun of his nationality. Heís Ivoirien and it sounds like Y Voit Rien in French which means ďHe sees nothing thereĒ. After that he threw his passengers out of his cab in the middle of nowhere. Coincidentally his next customer is a blind woman (Beatrice Dalle). They try to communicate with each other but their experiences of life are completely different from each other and after some point driverís questions make her angry. Heís impressed with the dialogue he made with this blind woman and at the end he crushes to another car. The driver of the other car accuses of him being blind. As I said before this one is an ironic story.

The funniest one is the forth story obviously because Roberto Benigni and his improvisation are both parts of it. He plays an eccentric cabbie here. At night in Rome, where lovers make love in the streets, he takes a priest and starts to confess his sins. He starts to talk about his physical relationships with a pumpkin then with a sheep then with his broherís wife. From the very beginning of their trip priest seems to have a problem with his heart and at the end he dies in the cab leaving the driver in a very bad situation. Itís really hard to write anything about Roberto Benigniís performance. Itís one of his best performances. Itís different from other parts of the film. The other stories donít try to be funny, and they are sad at some point, but this one is pure fun.

The last story is in Helsinki. Mika (Matti Pellonpaa) is the cab driver. Itís a very cold night in Helsinki and no one is outside. Finally he finds three customers who are sleeping on each otherís arm while waiting a cab. Itís a heavy drinking night for them because their friends, who continues his sleep in the cab, got fired. They all feel sorry about their friends and they tell his story to the driver. Then Mika tells them the saddest story they ever heard (itís really sad). After that point they all feel sorry about Mika and donít care their friend much. In the final scene their friend is alone in the cab. He pays the fee and goes out. The sun begins to rise. Itís a new beginning for everyone.

The film takes place in five different cities and each of them has their own characteristics. They are all about human relations and life. Especially when you start to watch Helsinki you can easily see how the climate and geography changes peopleís moods and communication skills. Jarmusch loves those cities and he wants you to love those cities, too. Jim Jarmusch is at his best, with his friends. No one should want anything more.

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