What is Dead Man about? Finding yourself, the emptiness of heroism and the regenerative power of violence in the old West? Or is it simply a chance for Johnny Depp to carry a gun and look good in a fur coat, while Jim Jarmusch eyes the scenery and Neil Young strangles his guitar?
Depp plays William Blake, a Cleveland accountant who heads out West, kills Robert Mitchum's son and goes on the run in the wilderness. Helped by an Indian (Gary Farmer) who believes him to be the mystical English poet (a knowledge of whom aids enjoyment), Depp transforms from bespectacled gent to sharp-shooting outlaw, but the film never rises beyond its good looks and gentle humour ("I see you've collected some more white man's metal"). Grasping for profundity, Dead Man makes you think, but rarely makes you feel.