William Blake travels into the West in search of a job, but on arriving at his destination, finds that the job has already gone. Things get worse, as he accidentally kills a man and has to go on the run, with an Indian spirit guide called 'Nobody' as his only companion.
William Blake (Depp), a plaid-suited greenhorn, arrives in the land of the longhorns in search of an accountancy position with the bizarrely eccentric John Dickinson (Robert Mitchum), only to find that the job has already gone. Taking respite in the arms of the local prostitute, things go from bad to worse as he is forced to kill Dickinson's son Charles (Gabriel Byrne) in self-defence. Now the most wanted man in the county, Blake is helped to escape the clutches of the law by all-knowing Indian spiritual guide Nobody (Farmer) who is convinced that Blake is the famed English poet.
Blake's travels bring him into contact with everyone from Iggy Pop to Crispin Glover, to a wildly over-the-top John Hurt, with Jarmusch beautifully capturing them in glorious black-and-white, and Depp's almost expressionless face evoking yet further Buster Keaton comparisons. There's plenty to enjoy from the rest of the all-star cast as well, in particular the dangerously dotty Mitchum who really should do comedy more often. But, as with all his best work, Depp appears to stand behind much showier performances while quietly acting everyone else off the screen.
Johnny Depp goes west, young man, and enters Jim Jarmusch's impressionistic, darkly deadpan vision of the frontier land in this elegiac, episodic and thoughtful Western. It's a tale that subtly reinterprets the genre and delivers Jarmusch's most accomplished, if not necessarily his most accessible film to date.