Jim Jarmusch's deadpan comedy-of-the-night is a collection of five vignettes taking place in the enclosed space of a cab ride, each occurring simultaneously in five different cities and five different time zones -- Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki.
The Los Angeles episode takes place at dusk, as high-powered casting agent Victoria (Gena Rowlands) gets a ride from L.A. International Airport with tomboy driver Corky (Winona Ryder), who would rather go on driving her cab than take up Victoria's offer to make her a superstar.
In New York City, novice East German cabbie Helmut Grokenberger (Armin Mueller-Stahl) has difficulty working the foot pedals to his hack, and his passenger, YoYo (Giancarlo Esposito), ends up driving himself to Brooklyn, picking up the shrill-voiced Angela (Rosie Perez) along the way.
In Rome, cab driver Gino (Roberto Benigni) engages in a heartfelt monologue confessing his past sexual exploits to his passenger, a priest who is dying of a heart attack in the back seat.
The film winds down in the last melancholy vignette, taking place in Helsinki, as taxi driver Mika (Matti Pellonpää) picks up three inebriated workmen who regale him with hard-luck stories. But Mika has a much harsher story of his own to tell.