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Down By Law


Jim Jarmusch

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About the Movie

When fate lands three hapless men—an unemployed disc jockey (Tom Waits), a small-time pimp (John Lurie), and a strong-willed Italian tourist (Roberto Benigni)—in a Louisiana prison, their singular adventure begins. Described by director Jim Jarmusch as a “neo–Beat noir comedy,” Down by Law is part nightmare and part fairy tale, featuring fine performances and crisp black-and-white photography by esteemed cinematographer Robby Müller.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 29
  • Fresh: 26
  • Rotten: 3
  • Average Rating: 7.6/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: The excitement (of Down by Law) comes from the realization that we are seeing a true film maker at work, using film to create a narrative that couldn't exist on the stage or the printed page of a novel. – Vincent Canby, New York Times, Jul 16, 2008

Fresh: The Jim Jarmusch penchant for off-the-wall characters and odd situations is very much in evidence. – Variety Staff, Variety, Jul 7, 2010

Fresh: Pure pleasure for comedy connoisseurs. – Rita Kempley, Washington Post, Nov 15, 2002

Fresh: A true original that kind of grows on you. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, Jul 7, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews


Well done, Mr. Jarmusch. I can't imagine improving on this film's settings, score, cast, and writing. Top notch comedy, with so many poignant human moments.


This was terrible. Cinematography...good, but the acting stank, plot development was woeful. How long should it take to arrest 3 "innocent" men and get the story moving?

A sad and beautiful film

An absolute masterpiece... funny as hell with moments of quiet tragedy. I've seen it at least a half dozen times and look forward to watching it another half dozen times. Brilliant acting by the three leads. Tom Waits is at his best.

Down By Law
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  • $19.99
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Released: 1986

Customer Ratings