The Limits of Control (2009)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  19 September 2009 (Japan)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 14,988 users   Metascore: 41/100
Reviews: 112 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?


The Finnish film Guitar refers to is La Vie de Bohème (1992) by director Aki Kaurismäki, a friend of Jim Jarmusch. 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 »

Crazy Credits

"NO LIMITS NO CONTROL" at the end of the closing credits See more »


References Stalker (1979) See more »


El Que Se Tenga Por Grande
Performed by Talegón de Córdoba, La Truco and Jorge Rodriguez Padilla
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Post-Modernist Fun
11 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Limits of Control" is a post-modernist exercise. It doesn't tell a story. (There are apparently no stories worth telling on a planet defined by a singer as dirt.) Rather, the movie borrows the plot lines and dialogue of film noir, the preoccupations of French art criticism, and other semi-art cinema fare, and recombines them in a heavily ironic and lushly sensual setting, (1) to draw attention to itself and (2) to comment on dreams, art, and the making of art.

Does it take itself seriously? Not really. Is it fun to watch? Of course. Who wouldn't enjoy watching a reclining nude woman with a revolver try to get her man (who responds "never while I'm working")? A laconic buff control freak in service to wise guys methodically inspect, and then eat, the coded messages that arrive at his patio table in matchboxes? A series of go-betweens solemnly ask the central character, in various languages, "Do you speak Spanish?" before launching into their wild-eyed explications in English?

The only part of the movie I found disappointing was the ending, a paean to flights of imagination wrapped in a faux action film climax. Bill Murray is simply unconvincing as a bellicose bad guy and the resolution is all too neat. But until then the dreams are great, the cinematography is first-rate, and the acting is top-drawer.

67 of 121 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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