Directed by Jim Jarmusch and released theatrically in it’s home country of America in 1986.
Put simply, Down By Law is the finest film that independent cinema has to offer, and also the best work that it’s director Jim Jarmusch has to offer. Already cemented as one of my favourite films, Down By Law is a story about three guys from different walks of life who are thrown together in prison and the story of their escape.
The film is led by a performances from Roberto Benigni, John Lurie and Tom Waits. The trio are all fantastic to say the least and they play off of each other brilliantly. Aswell as acting in the film, Lurie also provides the splendid blues score and there are some great songs by Waits spread out sporadically through the film.
The black and white element gives it a much more prison-y feel but in that sense it’s more similar to Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise than any other prison film ever made. Regardless, Down By Law isn’t exactly a prison film… it’s more a black comedy about three different personalities working together to get out of prison before the system eats them alive – something that was clearly already beginning to happen before they broke out.
The final 15 minutes are just a testament to the genius of Jim Jarmusch, and we can’t forget all of those Benigni one-liners now can we? Walt Whitman anyone?