Stranger Than Paradise Review

Image for Stranger Than Paradise

A teenager who is wasting away his life on gambling and drinking, is visited by his Hungarian cousin and the two decide to travel to Ohio to see their aunt. Along the way they meet various characters as well as learning valuable lessons on life.


Austere, asexual and very, very American, 1984's Stranger Than Paradise was the movie which defined the sensibility of a whole generation of movie brats and wannabe hipsters. Willie (Lurie) and Eddie (Edson) are East Village slackers who spend their time cultivating an image of bohemian boredom relieved only by their appropriation of a range of pleasures and pastimes (poker, the race track, TV dinners) which were once the exclusive preserve of an earlier generation of blue-collar workers. When Willie's 16-year-old Hungarian immigrant cousin (Balint) arrives in New York en route to an aunt in Ohio, the two hipsters are forced to take a look at themselves and the three finally hit the road in a parodic quest for roots and origins. It's possible to look back now and see Jarmusch's first feature as the period piece it always wanted to be.

In 1984 Jim Jarmusch tried to create the essential road movie and although he didn't manage that, he has still created a classic that captures perfectly the life of a drifter in New York. With diverse characters and beautiful scenery filmed in black and white, Stranger Than Paradise remains one of Jarmusch's most enduring epics.