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Down by Law
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Down by Law

1986
Comedy
Drama
1h 47m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 68.94% from 2231 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

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Rated 12 Jan 2009
10
98th
Tom Waits is a fascinating individual. If he wasn't such an amazing musician I would wish he would do more acting. But maybe seeing him in a movie once every couple of years makes me appreciate it more. This movie is mesmerizing in a very weird way that I can't explain in words. And by the way, Jim Jarmusch is better than you. "He just walked in there like an idiot."
Rated 23 Feb 2009
94
91st
Down by Law is awesome...in many ways.Waits is so leasure and cool, Begnini is nervous and loquacious as always.But what makes the film real unique & beautiful is the excellent Camera Work by Robby Müller.He picked up every small Detail. The Result is one of the best Jarmusch Movie of all times. It's a sad and beautiful world...no doubt, it is!
Rated 26 Jun 2010
9
90th
Nothing wrong with this one, well acted and at times hilarious. A rugged, contemplative, unpredictable exposé on an unlikely friendship brought about by their stolid (save for Benigni's) ride though life. My kind of film.
Rated 20 Jun 2008
79
57th
An enjoyable Jarmush flick, though I never truly found it especially gripping. The lackadaisical mood and nice cinematography are good and the acting is pretty enjoyable, but it all felt somehow incomplete to me.
Rated 30 Dec 2007
92
82nd
Almost a buddy-comedy, you really wish you could have been the fourth man with these guys. Benigni is amazing, Lurie is a great asshole that you come around to by the end, and Tom Waits is fucking cool and is at his best with Jarmusch. Oh, and Ellen Barkin is so fucking hot. A really warm, feel-good prison escape film.
Rated 26 Nov 2011
5
91st
Myth-making steeped in offbeat Americana, with Roberto Benigni as the cheerful outsider here to remind his hard-boiled compatriots of the capacity of their home, and his adopted, country to offer the promise of hope, beauty and opportunity even in its seediest and most destitute corners.
Rated 16 Mar 2009
71
60th
Slow-moving at times, beautifully shot throughout. Poignant and hilarious, the film is true to Jarmusch form: some will love the film's offbeat flair, and others will find it bothersome.
Rated 02 Jan 2010
7
80th
Better than most of Jarmusch's aimless films that I've seen (Dead Man, Stranger than Paradise, Coffee and Cigarettes) but I still think its a little overrated.
Rated 20 Jan 2012
75
81st
When you combine Jarmusch's style with the charming and comedic Roberto Benigni and the awesome Tom Waits (who also contributes to the soundtrack), you're gonna get something special. As typical of Jarmusch, it's minimal and not much happens, but I found it interesting nonetheless.
Rated 12 Aug 2014
90
80th
Jarmusch created an undeniably cool and alluring style with his breakthrough film "Stranger than Paradise" but not until "Down By Law" did he form an idea of character and plot that would allow the style to really ooze substance and merge into this essential piece of Americana and independent filmmaking.
Rated 25 Sep 2020
87
71st
Benigni and Lurie are fantastic but the last act drags at times and other than a few well lit scenes, the choice to film in black and white felt arbitrary
Rated 03 Dec 2006
90
95th
Funniest jarmusch movie, i love it.
Rated 28 Nov 2023
82
81st
I could’ve seen this being a favourite in my younger years of cinephilia. With its off beat humour and cool apathetic punk aesthetic that eventually leads into a fairytale thru the swamps. A we are all in our own prisons as longs as we subscribe it to be so sort of deal.
Rated 22 Sep 2007
1
0th
20 minutes just to get the main characters into jail... One even duplicates Cool Hand Luke (and he was jailed in the first few minutes). Slow, slow, slow. The dialogue just wasn't good enough to make me forget that I wanted every minute spent watching this back. I'd watch it again, if handsomely compensated.
Rated 09 May 2010
98
99th
Roberto Benigni, John Lurie (with a great score to the film as well) and Tom Waits. Jim Jarmusch pulls us down to earth, which is both entertaining and tough. Like drifting dogs, our main characters search for not just freedom, but also a purpose of living. There are so many absurdities in and around us, and sometimes the simplicity of films as Down By Law makes us get a grip.
Rated 21 Apr 2010
75
80th
More mature than Stranger than Paradise, Down by Law's odd situations and original narrative make the film a must for comic fable lovers.
Rated 02 May 2011
74
61st
"My Momma use to say America is the big melting pot. You bring it to a boil and all the scum rises to the top." Rises above, perhaps, in Jarmusch's America. Once the plot shook off its listlessness (and some near-disastrous line readings) and sat by the fire it certainly gained some admirable warmth and integrity. Helping things, Tom Waits is the sum of the world's collective awesomeness, multiplied by the surprising depth of his pathos-driven persona.
Rated 09 Nov 2014
4
74th
The chemistry between these three is something special.
Rated 09 Jan 2009
88
88th
It's a sad and beautiful world!
Rated 13 Dec 2014
3
30th
"you sure don't understand women", writes ol' jimbo, a line delivered by a black woman spread-eagle naked on a bed whilst a clothed pimp counts his cash in the most nonchalant way possible. wee jimsy is trying so hard to be cool and ironic that the result is fucking ridiculous, at least in the beginning. it definitely gets better toward the end, and there's some enjoyable moments scattered throughout, but this might be the worst film i've seen by jibbly-o-jimbo to date. wanker.
Rated 01 Mar 2014
79
62nd
I SCREAM-A YOU SCREAM-A WE ALL SCREAM-A FOR ICE CREAM-A
Rated 24 Jul 2011
95
95th
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice-cream !
Rated 18 Nov 2011
93
98th
Easily one of Jarmusch's best. And who doesn't enjoy when Tom Waits acts?
Rated 20 Apr 2008
88
85th
roberto benigni numero uno. mucho bene actore he is
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
55th
Three hopeless, hapless men get caught on the wrong side of the law and find themselves in a prison cell together... but not for long. Shot in black and white and with time to kill, we follow the unlikely trio as they try to escape their destinies. Wonderfully cast, shot and scripted, the ease with which this film flows along is beautiful.
Rated 27 Apr 2008
65
52nd
the usual jarmusch suspects deliver on this one. It isn't perfect, far from it, but it has a certain beat charm to it.
Rated 06 Dec 2020
80
81st
Jarmusch strings words together in such a hypnotic way. Benigni manages to be standout in a cast full of weirdos, what a performance. RIP Robby Müller.
Rated 24 Jan 2009
76
63rd
null
Rated 09 Sep 2009
75
35th
Sort of charming. I only continued to watch because of Benigni.
Rated 24 Jun 2023
70
37th
Lacks an apparent point or purpose outside of being an amusing exercise, but taken in that spirit it’s good fun, especially once the cock-eyed charisma, and strange camaraderie, begins to ignite between the three leads (with Benigni the life force to Waits and Lurie’s damp kindling). Told with Jarmusch's typically droll, low-key straight face that it’s difficult to know how seriously to take it; unfortunately also making it difficult to become fully invested.
Rated 02 Jul 2009
89
88th
My favorite Jarmusch.
Rated 23 Nov 2007
60
45th
A bit too slow paced and few too long scenes.
Rated 15 Jun 2014
86
84th
Something I really enjoy about Jarmusch's style here is the way he frames his shots, giving the New Orleans backdrop such an interesting look that the characters in the film seem like subjects in a painting. This is a great film to look at, and somehow Jarmusch doesn't allow the fascinating scenery to distract from his characters.
Rated 02 Jan 2015
50
0th
Jim Jarmusch #1
Rated 24 Aug 2011
95
93rd
Unbelievably cool. All three actors are great, even Benigni and I was sure he would ruin it.
Rated 02 Mar 2008
66
45th
# 675
Rated 06 Feb 2016
87
89th
It's really hard to say what made me love this film, but I did. Possibly the chemistry between the 3 leads, and the photography are the most notable features.
Rated 14 Feb 2009
78
79th
Usual Jarmusch flick: excellent story until last half an hour looses attention.
Rated 22 Nov 2007
63
35th
Benigni just isn't my cup of tea. Waits and Lurie are good enough in the other two leads but the script isn't quite good enough to be told this slowly. The low budget is also too clearly written all over the movie.
Rated 20 Jan 2013
50
17th
Probably deserves a rewatch, but I find Roberto Benigni insufferable.
Rated 25 Jun 2017
75
84th
(Viewed on 21/10/12): It's overrated in some circles, but D.B.L was Jarmusch really defining the cinematic identity that would later make him famous. The set up is a bit of a slog, and it's only when Benigni appears that the film picks up (Jarmusch is the only director to ever make a case for using Benigni, including Benigni). His lively naive fish-out-of-water character plays wonderfully off the hardened Waits and Lurie, and much (droll) hilarity ensues from their cultural clashes.
Rated 02 Dec 2007
100
94th
A brilliant, hilarious film with excellent performances shot on beautiful, high-contrast black-n-white stock.
Rated 02 Jan 2013
87
91st
I ham good egg.
Rated 08 May 2010
87
95th
Love that a bit slow but funny one. Good camera work also. Benigni is just hilarious.
Rated 07 Aug 2011
66
63rd
It's a bit mediocre, but has some sort of a captivating quality to it. And Roberto Benigni is
Rated 19 Jan 2008
87
73rd
There's no way to mini-review this, sorry. I can rant all I want about astonishing cinematography and wonderfully introverted acting, but this film is about neither. It's all about atmosphere and feeling, and that is something you just have to see yourself. Whether you like it or not. I do.
Rated 13 Nov 2007
95
0th
Some awesome shoots
Rated 03 Jul 2009
100
99th
This is not a documentary about everyone's favorite punk rock band. It is more than that. Go-bama.
Rated 24 Aug 2010
8
79th
It has charm and Tom Waits being awesome. There a few too many shots/scenes where for me it was simply too slow. Lots of quirky bits and smiles on my face not to not enjoy it however.
Rated 04 Aug 2016
86
86th
The acting is pretty great, actually. I needn't mention Benigni, and the Waits/Lurie chemistry is fantastic. Waits' DJ stuff he does in the jail cell for Lurie is simply magical, and epitomizes what this story is all about. They have to find psychological ways of escaping their reality in prison, long before any physical liberation takes place. Jarmusch and these 3 actors display scenes of spiritually rejoicing in spite of one's hell. We all scream for ice cream ; )
Rated 19 Dec 2008
64
28th
712
Rated 17 Oct 2008
90
74th
Slow but engaging
Rated 28 Nov 2009
95
62nd
A deeply moving story line accompanied by a unbelieveable performance by Roberto Benini. Oh great sympathy for naivity!
Rated 03 May 2012
80
80th
**jockey full of bourbon
Rated 19 Feb 2024
60
39th
Suddenly I can imagine a million scenarios for Roberto Benigni to contribute to the most confounding, and irritating experimental cinema of the day. But there's something going on here that just isn't right. It's likely that I actively clash with Jarmusch's personality, which is so pronounced (he's indulgent) in all his movies. It's quite an interesting film overall, and very well made.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
65
71st
Score based on distant memory.
Rated 25 May 2012
90
92nd
Pretty funny for a film with no jokes or pratfalls. The camera work is crazy good too. It's a really well-made film, nobody is off their game.
Rated 07 Apr 2007
90
86th
Yet another unique creation from Jarmusch. Starts well enough then becomes strangely more poetic as it goes along
Rated 26 Jul 2020
68
62nd
If you can tune into its lethargic pace, this could be quite enjoyable. I couldn't. And it doesn't help that the first half hour is populated by men (not the women, luckily) who are not professional actors (when Tom Waits is the closest thing to a pro...). Thank god Roberto Benigni shows up. In a movie where things happen for no apparent reason and absolutely nothing is explained, it's a blessed jolt to be confronted by someone you can't take your eyes off, wondering what he will do next.
Rated 02 Mar 2010
55
13th
It certainly has its merits (foremostly Robby Muller's gorgeous photography) and it probably seemed like a breath of fresh air at the time, but the more Jim Jarmusch movies I see, the more impressed I am that Dead Man is his stand-alone achievement. The deadpan affectation is stifling here, and Benigni is his usual grating presence.
Rated 01 Apr 2014
7
94th
i am a goood egg.
Rated 15 Apr 2011
55
33rd
nicedir boyle uyduruk, izleyiciyi salak yerine koyan bi film izlememistim. "parami geri verin!" diyesim geldi ama sinemada olmadigimi hatirladim. verilen puanlara bakip bu filmin neden bu kadar begenildigini anlamaya calistim ama o cabam da sonucsuz kalinca sinemadan bi bok anlamadigimi dusunup kendimden sogudum. jim jarmusch'a yeni baslayanlar icin bu film yanlis secim. daha da jarmusch izlemem mesela ben. aman diyim.
Rated 06 Jun 2020
60
38th
I found this to be very boring until Roberto Benigni pops into prison and livens everything up. Up until that point it's bad, repetitive tough guy dialog taken straight out of Streets of Fire outtakes
Rated 17 Mar 2009
50
39th
Intriguing, amusing, and ever so slight. Really comes alive when Benigni shows up. Slow-moving, strikingly photographed (in black & white) by Robby Muller on location in Louisiana. Lurie and Waits also provide music on the soundtrack.
Rated 17 Jun 2017
70
70th
The movie shines in it's portrayal of the main characters minds, so to speak. In the prison cell, their moods, speech and the general atmosphere reminded me of how my experiences have been as a patient in psych wards. The development they go through in the relationship to one another, and so on. There is definitely depth and drama, amplified by the slow pacing, but from the prison cell and onwards there is a very big amount of, sometimes rather bizarre, comedy.
Rated 05 Nov 2015
80
77th
Tom Waits can make anything seem cool. Even sitting in prison and having shoes thrown at you by a scorned woman.
Rated 02 Feb 2019
63
35th
It's Benigni's show, for the good and the bad. I expected more.
Rated 14 Feb 2016
80
68th
13 Febrer 2016 - El trio em diverteix molt i a més em semblen bona gent. El que s'ensenya també m'agrada, té coses inesperades, i el ritme es permet fer aturades i talls quan vol. El benigni és molt simpàtic. I és veritat que la comèdia està més o menys continguda, el personatge graciós en faria molta menys si no estigués envoltat dels dos seriosos.
Rated 10 Apr 2011
40
8th
hapishane, firar, ceset, pezevenk, katil, kumpasa gelmek, (sevgisinden ayrilan bir dj bir jaguari sehrin bir kösesinden digerine götürüken polis tarafindan cevrilir arabada bir ceset oldugundan habersizdir. Bir pezevenk ise kumpasa getirilir ve kücük yasta bir kizla bir odada basilir. bu ikisi hapiste bulusur ve yablarina italyan aksaginyla ingilizce konusan roberto gelir. hapisten kacarlar. vasat bir hikaye albenisi yok.)
Rated 18 Mar 2022
60
35th
When a movie is as slow as this is, I tend to wonder about the filmmaking process. I'm at a loss at how those guys kept stony faces throughout this oddly-paced comedic drama. Although I really expected more from the soundtrack, I did like the cinematography and the weird juxtaposition of characters and place; I just can't say I enjoyed it.
Rated 10 Dec 2012
80
81st
watched: 2012, 2014
Rated 14 Aug 2007
75
20th
The first half is excellent, if slow. The second is just boring.
Rated 04 Jul 2010
70
35th
The lengthy set-up is pretty slow and boring, and Waits and Lurie both seem awkward in their roles. Once they get in a cell together with Roberto Begnini, however, everyone loosens up and has fun. These three guys play off each other very well, and there's kind of an urban-folksy charm to their rapport. The noir-styled cinematography is very nice, too. In general, it holds up better than Stranger Than Paradise, although it didn't win me over that much either.
Rated 05 Sep 2011
5
8th
fell asleep
Rated 14 Nov 2018
90
87th
A verdade é que o cinema de Jarmusch transcende o bom ou ruim, é maravilhoso em essência, é um cinema tão honesto que não tem como não amar e a gente sabe que encontra isso em poucos diretores. BluraRip no MakingOff
Rated 24 Feb 2013
75
70th
Benigni is hilarious, especially the bit about his mother. Has some flaws, but enjoyable
Rated 20 Sep 2011
92
93rd
It's raw, jazzy, smart and cool.
Rated 08 Nov 2016
93
97th
"My mama used to say that America's the big melting pot. You bring it to a boil and all the scum rises to the top."
Rated 01 Jan 2017
85
81st
The camerawork is simple, but the three leads are hilarious together. Lurie and Wait's simple, masculine camaraderie and annoyance at one another are really tied together through Benigni's humorous straight forwardness.
Rated 14 May 2019
80
77th
A perfect role for Waits, and Lurie definitely has some star quality too. Amazed at the way this film works with the simplest, silliest things; that's the theme, even. Everyone just looks like they're having fun.
Rated 29 Mar 2022
79
77th
This film is an interesting look on the relationships between 3 prisoners. The cast does a good job in this movie. The plot is simple but it works. Overall I would recommend this film.
Rated 15 Oct 2007
80
40th
A bit slow, but wonderfully filmed. A quirky ride.
Rated 05 Jun 2012
95
81st
Great movie!!
Rated 10 Jul 2015
75
59th
do y'know what this is actually a fun film
Rated 21 Apr 2014
75
74th
Roberto Benigni is pretty irritating most of the time, but this is still definitely one of Jarmusch's best.
Rated 10 Jul 2007
4
83rd
Great chemistry between the characters. Benigni is hilarious.
Rated 05 Apr 2009
73
83rd
Good Movie
Rated 17 May 2021
95
91st
I scream-a. You scream-a. We all scream-a. For ice cream-a!
Rated 30 Nov 2021
84
73rd
I'm a die-hard Waits fan so I'm biased from the opening song. With Jarmusch you know you're going to get some aimless wandering and awkward scenes, so unless you're into that it can certainly drag in parts. However, even just hanging with this trio has some special moments.
Rated 15 Jan 2010
70
40th
596
Rated 25 Jul 2016
85
87th
Down by Law follows the imprisonment and subsequent escape of three offbeat lowlifes played by the charismatic trio of Waits, Lurie and Benigni. The basic narrative, lengthy takes and seemingly inane conversation contribute to an unusual but bewitching atmosphere, reminiscent of some of the finer works of postmodern absurdist theatre, and it's an absolute delight.
Rated 14 Jul 2022
80
72nd
Very fun prison/road trip dramedy. Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni make a compelling trio. A perfectly cast Benigni provides much of the comic relief. I've not loved some of Benigni's other work but he's perfect in this and the chemistry between the trio is great. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Rated 07 Oct 2021
85
74th
Absolutely shines towards the end. We leave this society built with human-made laws, the same way we were brought into it, alone.
Rated 31 May 2011
99
99th
Beauty, crime, beauty.
Rated 02 Nov 2022
82
69th
It looks magnificent--I can't think of anything better in black and white from the color era. The action feels pretty slight, with the film's conclusion just kind of laying there in a "this way, that way, who really cares." I get that that's probably the point, but it doesn't feel like much of one.
Rated 12 Feb 2014
75
82nd
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice-cream!
Rated 30 Nov 2011
74
48th
#521
Rated 24 Jul 2009
95
93rd
Benigni steals the show, and the scene where he dances with his new found love is one of the greatest i've seen in recent memory.
Rated 04 May 2010
85
94th
Definitely one of my favorite Jarmusch films. Benigni is great, and funny as always. If you're looking for a good introduction into the world of Jim Jarmusch, this is a great film to start with.
Rated 19 Feb 2013
76
40th
Tayfa Film günlerinde izlediğimiz Carmus filmlerindendi nedense kisiligini sevsem de filmlerine pek isinamadim carmus abimin ama severim adamin olayi farkli

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