The Limits of Control (2009)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  19 September 2009 (Japan)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 14,821 users   Metascore: 41/100
Reviews: 111 user | 162 critic | 22 from

The story of a mysterious loner, a stranger in the process of completing a criminal job.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alex Descas ...
Jean-François Stévenin ...
The Waiter
Héctor Colomé ...
Second American
María Isasi ...
Flamenco Club Waitress
Norma Yessenia Paladines ...
Flight Attendant


A solitary man who does not speak Spanish is an underground courier. Two men who are both thuggish and philosophical send him to Madrid with cryptic instructions. Over the course of a few days, he receives his instructions from a series of distinctive individuals who provide words of philosophy or of warning and also give him a matchbox with a tiny piece of paper, which he reads then eats, accompanied by espresso served in two cups. He is quiet, self-contained, focused on his work. He has rules. He encounters and at times transmits a violin, diamonds, a guitar, and a map. Is he a smuggler? Merely an independent conduit? Or, something else? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For every way in, there is another way out.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic nudity and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | | |

Release Date:

19 September 2009 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

No Limits No Control  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$55,820 (USA) (1 May 2009)


$425,025 (USA) (26 June 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Tilda Swinton talks about a swooping bird in a room full of sand she is referring to a scene in the Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker (1979). See more »


When the Lone Man travels from Madrid to Sevilla, he enters a S 100 AVE train set. But the interior shots are clearly done in a S 103 (Velaro E), a totally different - and much newer - type of train. See more »


[first lines]
Creole: [character speaks in Spanish/French creole, English subtitles] You don't speak Spanish, right?
French: [character translates for Creole] You don't speak Spanish, right?
Creole: You are ready? Everything's cool?
French: You are ready? Everything's cool?
Lone Man: Yes!
Creole: Good.
French: Good.
See more »


References The Lady from Shanghai (1947) See more »


Schubert: 2. Adagio [String Quintet in C, D.956]
Composed by Franz Schubert
Performed by Mstislav Rostropovich, Melos Quartett
Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Colourful film noir.
22 March 2010 | by (Belgium) – See all my reviews

If you're looking for a great story, you'd better go read a book. If you think you can make up your own story, maybe you can watch this film. Before I saw it, I looked for reviews on the net. People spoke about too little dialogue, slowness and even misuse of great actors. So I was a bit prepared and knew what I could or could not expect. This wasn't bad, but after watching it and reading some reviews again, it became very clear to me that this film is very personal. Even some Jarmusch fans seemed to have trouble with the film. But to me, it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I like films who really use the imagery instead of just trying to tell a story. To me that's the whole purpose of a movie; visual composition, beautiful color, appropriate music and great characters. And it's not so important if you don't get the characters or understand what they say, as long as you feel it's a part of their character. It's like a picture of someone you don't know, and you make up your own story about them. The dialogues are short, yes, but that only adds to the fact that you can add more of your own imagination to the characters. And still, the dialogues were interesting enough to me, but like I said it's really personal. It's probably very important how you feel, where you stand in life, and what you think the priorities are. But to me everything came together. I've been waiting very long for something special like this. I would give it a ten, but you never know what's coming around the corner.

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