The cinematography for this film is extremely strong. From the beginning of the film, there are long panning shots that establish the mood of the film. The shots are beautiful, and they really build the characters and work to create a sense of entrapment. The editing is also quite fluid, especially when the stories of the two primary characters have not been interwoven yet, creating a very polished product.
The writing of the film is also very good. There are funny moments, but it isn't hilarious. Instead, the focus is on the characters. Most prison films are focused on the escape, but this film focuses on the relationship between the characters, and it works very well. There are a few moments that seem out-of-place and a few moments that are a bit slower than others, but overall, the film is written pretty well.
I thought that the acting in this film was really good from the three protagonists. Tom Waits and John Lurie both give great performances with a great range of emotion, varying from comedic to dramatic in appropriate moments. Roberto Benigni serves as the comedic relief, and is extremely effective in his role. A lot of his charm shown in his later films really shines through, and I love that about him. He also has the ability to deliver jokes very well for a laugh. The supporting performances were rather small, but rather lackluster too. Most of the supporting actors seemed to be slightly inexperienced and overacting.
So overall, "Down By Law" is an interesting, well-made film, but it isn't perfect. There are some slightly cheesy moments and some slow parts, but it is good overall.
Down By Law
Big Tuna's Rating: B
How Did I Watch It?: FilmStruck.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Maybe.