7.5/10
34,051
122 user 75 critic

Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

Stranger than Paradise (original title)
R | | Comedy, Drama | 4 October 1984 (UK)
Clip
3:12 | Clip
A New Yorker's life is thrown into a tailspin when his younger cousin surprise-visits him, starting a strange, unpredictable adventure.

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Writer:

Jim Jarmusch
8 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Lurie ... Willie
Eszter Balint ... Eva
Richard Edson ... Eddie
Cecillia Stark Cecillia Stark ... Aunt Lotte
Danny Rosen Danny Rosen ... Billy
Rammellzee Rammellzee ... Man with Money
Tom DiCillo ... Airline Agent
Richard Boes Richard Boes ... Factory Worker
Rockets Redglare Rockets Redglare ... Poker Player
Harvey Perr Harvey Perr ... Poker Player
Brian J. Burchill Brian J. Burchill ... Poker Player
Sara Driver ... Girl with Hat
Paul Sloane Paul Sloane ... Motel Owner
Edit

Storyline

A self-styled New York hipster is paid a surprise visit by his younger cousin from Budapest. From initial hostility and indifference a small degree of affection grows between the two. Along with a friend, they eventually end up visiting their aunt in the wastelands of Cleveland and then proceed to Florida where they lose all their money gambling before unwittingly gaining a fortune. Written by J.Arnold Free <arnold@mayahtt.ca> and Brian McInnis

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie Willie and Eva are watching in the apartment is 1956s Forbidden Planet. See more »

Goofs

When Willie and Eddie are walking on the railway line in Philadelphia, there are tracks of their footprints in the snow from a previous take. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Willie: Yeah.
Aunt Lotte: [speaks indistinctly in Hungarian]
Willie: Oh, hello, Aunt Lotte.
Aunt Lotte: [replies indistinctly in Hungarian throughout conversation]
Willie: Don't speak to me in Hungarian, please. No, I haven't heard from him, not for ten years. Yeah, I got your letter. Speak English, please! Yeah, my little cousin Eva. Yeah, I know, she's come - coming here and she's gonna stay overnight, when's she coming? Today? Straight from Budapest today? Ah, no. No, I never agreed to that. I can't possibly babysit for her for ...
[...]
See more »


Soundtracks

I Put a Spell on You
Written by Screamin' Jay Hawkins (as Jay Hawkins)
Used by permission of CBS Unart Catalog, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Performed by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Courtesy of CBS Records
See more »

User Reviews

 
A small, sweet masterpiece
4 February 2005 | by TheHumbleCriticSee all my reviews

Jarmusch was never much of a guy to dip in the mainstream; "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai" is about as Hollywood as you're going to get from him. His recent "Coffee and Cigarettes" might have alluded to his roots as an indie filmmaker, but its stories are monochromatic and offer little emotional variety save for the Albert Molina vignette. His best film might be this one, a miniature masterpiece that is underrated when compared to his other stuff. The basic premise of the film revolves around a New York immigrant from Eastern Europe, his goofy buddy, and his female cousin who comes to visit him and America as they jump from state to state.

There isn't much of a plot for sure, but Jarmusch more than compensates for this fact by creating three distinct characters that manage to be sweet without resorting to cheap sentiment. These guys might be rude and frivolous at times, but they never lose their sense of embarrassed compassion, nor as a direct result their humanity as complete characters as well. There's a morose wit to all of these proceedings. All three actors truly seem to have a playful camaraderie, working the motions of a natural friendship with Jarmusch's direction that shows them at their happiest only to be disappointed again and again, like a kid getting clothes instead of video games at Christmas once more. This honest and easygoing subtext doesn't include undemanding Hollywood moments of syrupy tenderness or mawkish emotion. For once, the clichéd adage of characters writing themselves is probably true here, as the film has an almost improvised quality to it. Jarmusch gets the careful balance between static ugliness and a subtext of natural warmth just right.

While the great heart of this film lies in its characterization, it's catapulted into greatness because of Jarmusch's quiet touch. In nearly every one of his films the director is obsessed with the awkward silences that make up nearly every relationship. He's much more revealing with the silences here, fleshing out character development in a car ride or while staring out at the blankness of snowy Cleveland. This brings me to my final point that Jarmusch again does with intelligence. When the characters move from city to city, they have a passionate belief that what they will find is something unbelievable. But the New York we see is a bunch of back alleys and graffiti. Cleveland is a blank white expanse, strangely vapid as opposed to pictorial. And Florida has to be the ugliest Florida ever depicted on screen, consisting mainly of a "Welcome to Florida" sign and a decrepit motel. While the main message is that life is often full of disappointments, that life is rarely full of transcendent moments, people can still connect with each other regardless of their surrounding environments. It's Jarmusch's best statement yet, and it's for these reasons this one must be seen even before even his fine "Mystery Train." The film, essentially a three-character comedy, is also thankfully kept brief, becoming genuinely meaningful and moving as a result.


41 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 122 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA | West Germany

Language:

English | Hungarian | Italian

Release Date:

4 October 1984 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Stranger Than Paradise See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$90,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,436,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,436,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page



Recently Viewed