Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

R   |    |  Comedy, Drama


Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Poster

A New Yorker's life is thrown into a tailspin when his younger cousin surprise visits him, starting a strange, unpredictable adventure.

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7.6/10
30,370

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  • Richard Edson and Sara Driver at an event for Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
  • Richard Edson at an event for Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
  • Eszter Balint in Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
  • Richard Edson in Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
  • Sara Driver at an event for Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
  • Richard Edson and Sara Driver at an event for Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

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4 March 2002 | Pete-230
Neat little formal exercise
Watched for the second time the other night, and was struck how formal this really is. Every scene is a single take, some static, some with very stylized camera movement (static shot up the street to an approaching car; pick up car and track it as it passes, static again as it drives off). Occasionally an actor wanders off screen to the right, despite the camera trying to keep up; just this slight effect, surrounded as it is by so much silence and stillness, is enough to produce a slight frisson of tension. Blackouts separate the scenes, but either ambient sound or music cues continue as transitions during the cuts.

The main characters' costumes underline their alienation from the world around them. Judging from the props & surroundings, film seems to be set in contemporary (early-1980s) time. Willie and Eddie dress and act like late-Fifties/early-Sixties racetrack touts, and they seem most at ease in the retro living room of Aunt Lotte, who presumably left Hungary during that period. Eva's costumes likewise proclaim 'outsider,' though the dreary black she wears can signify either a refugee from East Europe or a jaded bohemian poseur.

First viewing a number of years back, I thought the film was offhanded and casual, with not much going on. A second viewing changed my mind - the absolute minimalism of the plot and dialogue leave plenty of space to explore Jarmusch's technique, composition, etc. It made me laugh out loud a couple of times, too.

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