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USA 1989
Directed by
Gus Van Sant
102 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Drugstore Cowboy

Gus Van Sant’s  is closer in sensibility to Danny Boyle's tragi-comic Trainspotting (1996) than Darren Oronofsky's harrowing Requiem for a Dream (2000) in its depiction of chronic drug abusers whose whole world revolves around staying high

Matt Dillon, in what is probably his best-known performance, plays Bob, who with his wife (Kelly Lynch) and a couple of younger hangers-on (James Le Gros and Heather Graham) spend all their time robbing drugstores and getting stoned, all the while trying to stay one step of the cops. Plotwise that’s pretty much all there is to the film whose appeal lies principally in Dillon’s performance, which has echoes of Mickey Rourke’s Motorcycle Boy from Coppola’s Rumble Fish,1983) in which Dillon played Rourke's younger brother, as a man who takes his chosen career path as a thief and drug-user very seriously, so seriously in fact that he decides that he is getting too old to do the job properly. That, and a cameo from the grand-daddy of all dope-fiends, William S. Burroughs as Tom the Priest, makes for a good amount of low-key.gallows humour.

Based on an autobiographical novel by James Fogle and co-scripted by Van Sant with Daniel Yost, Drugstore Cowboy is an attractively lean film, low budgeted yet gracefully stylish, one that admittedly aesthicizes and even derives a good deal of dead-pan amusement from its subject matter yet at the same time maintains a good deal of fidelity to it.




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