Jim Jarmusch made his directorial debut with this episodic profile of one troubled hipster trying to make sense of his life.
Aloysius Parker (Christopher Parker), known to his friends as Allie, is a young man with a damaged family background (his mother is in a mental institution and his father has gone missing) and an inability to sleep, causing him to dream while he's awake.
After a troubling encounter with his girlfriend (Leila Gastil) and a frustrating visit with his mother, Allie drifts through a strangely under-populated New York City, crossing paths with a sharp-suited street musicians (John Lurie), a middle-aged jazz fan (Frankie Faison), a disturbed Latin woman (Maria Duval) and a popcorn girl at a movie theater (Lisa Rosen) who's fascinated with Eskimos. A chance encounter with a woman with a vintage Ford Mustang gives Allie the opportunity to escape the chaos around him.
While Permanent Vacation made the rounds of European film festivals after its completion in 1980, it was all but ignored in the United States, and it wasn't until Jarmusch released Stranger Than Paradise in 1984 that his star began to rise on the independent film scene.