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Night on Earth

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France, United Kingdom, Germany · 1991
Rated R · 2h 9m
Director Jim Jarmusch
Starring Winona Ryder, Gena Rowlands, Giancarlo Esposito, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Genre Comedy, Drama

An anthology of five different cab drivers in five American and European cities and their remarkable fares on the same eventful night. The action moves between Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki as the drivers and passengers struggle with the elegiac nightly grind of their lonely lives.

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What are critics saying?


Empire by

Jarmusch leaves us with a highly entertaining and thoroughly oddball collage celebrating the typically inconsequential nature of most daily encounters.


Washington Post by Desson Thomson

Even in his poorest work (i.e., this movie), director Jarmusch retains an appealing sense of experimentation. He fills his movies with those clumsy, unhurried moments between people. But in Night on Earth, with five vignettes to get through, he's forced to create faster, more sketchlike pieces. He's just not up to the task. Nor do performers Winona Ryder, Isaach De Bankole, Roberto Benigni and others pick up the improvisational ball.


Time Out London by Geoff Andrew

As ever with Jarmusch, as the five sequential stories proceed toward their unexpectedly poignant conclusion, there's a touch of the experimental at play; but it's also a film of great warmth. Character prevails throughout, and with the exception of a miscast Ryder, the performances are terrific. Though it may take a while to get Jarmusch's gist, hang in there; by the time Tom Waits growls his lovely closing waltz over the credits, Jarmusch has shown us moments most film-makers don't even notice.


Washington Post by Hal Hinson

It's a lovely idea, and if the individual sections of the film were more substantial, or if we sensed some connection between them, some governing principle, it might have resulted in a delicate, poetically funny movie. Unfortunately, Jarmusch's lackadaisical minimalist aesthetic and his chronic lack of energy are the only unifying elements.


The A.V. Club by Keith Phipps

Almost unavoidably uneven, it gets off to a rough start in a segment that relies too heavily on Winona Ryder's charms as a pixieish grease monkey. But it improves as it goes, and in segment after segment, Jarmusch's characters strive, almost heroically, to make human connections, even ones that won't last beyond the moment when they pay their fares.


Austin Chronicle by Marjorie Baumgarten

Though mildly interesting for their individual merits, there is little sense of their connection to each other as a film and to us as an audience. It's as though this cab ride of a movie keeps moving forward with no clear destination or purpose.


Entertainment Weekly by Owen Gleiberman

Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth is an agreeably flaky comedy built around a surefire hook. Each of the film’s five segments consists of a single extended taxicab ride through a different city; the idea is that each excursion is taking place at exactly the same time. The movie is like a hipster’s ramshackle version of traveling around the world and never leaving the Hilton.


Rolling Stone by Peter Travers

Jarmusch is a true visionary; he knows his films can't bring order to the ravishing chaos around him, but he can't resist the fun of trying. In this compassionate comedy of missed connections, he makes us see the ordinary in fresh and pertinent ways. But the flickers of humanity in those taxis are soon dulled by barriers of time, sex, race, language and money. They are flickers in a vast emotional void.


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

Jarmusch is a poet of the night. Much of Night on Earth creates the same kind of lonely, elegaic, romantic mood as Mystery Train, his film about wanderers in nighttime Memphis. Tom Waits' music helps to establish this mood of cities that have been emptied of the waking. It's as if the minds of these night people are affected by all of the dreams and nightmares that surround them.


The New York Times by Vincent Canby

With this, his fourth commercially released feature, Mr. Jarmusch again demonstrates his mastery of comedy of the oblique. He seems to see his characters through a telescope, while attending to their talk with some kind of long-range listening device. Everything that is seen and heard is vivid and particular, but decidedly foreign. Meanings are elusive. Themes can be supplied by others. He's also becoming an increasingly fine director of actors.

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