Next on Netflix: Johnny Depp fights death
So we all know that Johnny Depp has the quirky-role thing down pat. But what we don’t often get to see is a role where he makes that transformation from ordinary guy to something a little bit different. Luckily, we have Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man,” a film that walks the strange line between a western and a deep introspective journey.
Depp plays a shy man named William Blake who’s journeying from Ohio to a town in the far-off Wild West by train to get to an accounting job that he’s been promised. He arrives in the frontier town only to find that his would-be boss has gotten tired of waiting for him and hired someone else in his place.
Stranded without money or anyone to help, Blake goes home with a woman he meets at a saloon. Unfortunately, her jealous ex-boyfriend is the son of the same man who replaced him, and he’s got a gun. Blake kills the son in self-defense and leaves town wounded and wanted.
So begins Blake’s journey. He meets a Native American named Nobody, who was educated by white men and who believes that Blake is a reincarnation of the English poet of the same name. Though at first Nobody’s statements confuse or frighten him, Blake quickly learns that Nobody is the only person he can really trust–especially now that bounty hunters from town are after him, dead or alive.
Guided by his instincts and by Nobody’s help, Blake sheds his previous persona and becomes a quietly ruthless survivor, trying to buy himself time before his wounds overcome him. It’s a rare movie where Johnny Depp is fighting to keep his normalcy rather than clowning to show us all how weird and offbeat he is. And, wonder of wonders, an actual Native American was cast to play Nobody.
If you’re looking forward to Jarmusch’s upcoming “Only Lovers Left Alive”, be sure you see “Dead Man.” No Tom Hiddleston in this one, but oh well.