Though invariably praised for the intelligence of his writing, Sayles is rarely singled out for visual flair. His integrity and earnestness have caused many commentators to label his movies worthy but dull, lacking both esthetic daring and technical pizzazz.
Though cagey about its location—license plates announce only “The Industrial State” or “The Highway State”—much of Ghost Dog was shot in Jersey City, where the boarded-up storefronts and decomposing car lots frame a character as obsolete as his surroundings.
"What is your responsibility to people whose love you have accepted but maybe you no longer join in that love? Culturally we’ve really talked a lot about taking care of the self, and that’s not necessarily illegitimate, but I think the process of taking care of each other can get lost in the shuffle. That is a big theme for me."