Mystery Train (1989)
Pssst, want to check out Mystery Train in our new look?
See all comments
I don't, and have never, had a thing for feet; but that Japanese chick picking up the lighter, flipping it open, lighting the guy's cigarette, before putting it back in her pocket-all with her feet-was... interesting to say the least.
You saw me standing alone,
Without a dream in my heart,
Without a love of my own.
I get the feeling Jim Jarmusch is continually deflating expectations with Mystery Train, including those the title evokes (the train only bookends the film, and what's the mystery?). Each of the three interconnected stories in this anthology features at least one foreign character who eventually has to crash in a seedy hotel on the same night; Elvis is a consideration in each. In each block, we expect certain things to happen because movies and other narratives have conditioned us to expect them. But like the young Japanese couple who are a little disappointed not to understand a thing a tour guide is saying, our own programmed hopes are often dashed. There's no real arcing in the youths' relationship by the end of Far from Yokohama. In The Ghost, an Italian woman is told a weird story about the ghost of Elvis Presley, and later sees it, but is also told it's just a standard pick-up line in Memphis. Sharing the hotel room with a girl down on her luck (and with a very naturalistic verbal tic) likewise doesn't end with us really knowing what happened to the woman's husband. And in the third room, three drunken jackasses, including a Brit who just shot someone, hold the gun that has to go off by morning since we hear it in each story, but the Chekhovian tension is deflated too, and is played off as comedy. And though the three stories have the potential to converge into one last act, the coda instead refuses to have the characters meet even if they're technically in the frame together. This is a case of a film maker understanding how the medium works and turning left when all the rules say he should turn right. It's not unpleasant - to me it's akin to Tintin's The Castafiore Emerald - but more for connoisseurs who get wise to what Jarmusch is doing than the casual movie fan.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!
In 2 official lists
View all lists this movie is in
This movie ranks #371 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #603 in The Criterion Collection