Jarmusch runs riot on despair

THE long-awaited Night on Earth proves to be a major disappointment. Jim Jarmusch takes a good, if not terribly inventive idea and then makes it hopelessly bleak and uninspiring.

Focusing on four cab drivers in four cities, he also tells their passengers' stories. But although he strives for depth and humour, Jarmusch's heavy-handed technique turns the vignettes into weighty pieces that never get off the ground.

First up, the camera zooms in on Los Angeles where the beautiful but dumb cab driver is none other than Winona Ryder.

Her passenger, a high-powered movie talent scout (played by Gena Rowlands) turns the Hollywood beams on Ryder but the happy cabbie proves uninterested in fame.

Alas, this sets the tone for the rest of the film. What should be witty dialogue falls flat and the characters fall flatter still - especially in the Paris episode between a beautiful blind girl (French actress Beatrice Dalle) and a black, immigrant cabbie.

Meanwhile, in Rome, comedian Giancarlo Esposito picks up a bishop whom he regales with his stories of fornication during an impromptu confession.


When the bishop drops dead, the cabbie has to hide the evidence. This is the funniest vignette but it seems out-of-place in the seriousness.

The last is an epic tale of sadness. A Helsinki cabbie with a chip on his shoulder picks up two drunken friends in the small hours. Both have a sob story to tell.

Jarmusch's attempt to enter the world of mainstream film-making is a major flop.

But for Jarmusch fans, it will prove a must-see, if only to complete his filmography and to discover the sad truth for themselves.