Mystery Train

(Jim Jarmusch, USA, 1989)


American independent director Jim Jarmusch is a one-thing-at-a-time filmmaker, like Jacques Rivette and Takeshi Kitano.

He presents – patiently, without any pressing narrative drive – streets, cars, amusing roadside fixtures, and the unusual ways that his motley crew of characters have of walking or talking.

Story-wise, Jarmusch likes a collection of shaggy-dog anecdotes, strung together in some vaguely meaningful way (as in Night on Earth, 1991).

The link between segments in Mystery Train is the myth and memory of Dead Elvis – plus the conceit that the consecutive stories take place over the same brief stretch of time. It is a film of hit-and-miss attractions – a highlight being the rather underwhelming ghost appearance of The King himself.

MORE Jarmusch: Broken Flowers, Ghost Dog, Dead Man, The Limits of Control, The Dead Don’t Die

© Adrian Martin January 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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