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USA 1987
Directed by
Barbet Schroeder
97 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Mickey O'Rourke makes a good stand-in for Charles Bukowski's autobiographical hero, Henry Chinaski, with an unusually-cast but surprisingly effective Faye Dunaway as his dipsomaniacal consort, Wanda.

Penned by Bukowski himself, the film is a series of episodes built around the seemingly endless quest to stay drunk in which Henry is the hero of sorts, a kind of Skid Row knight errant. Whilst the film is well enough made with some suitably raw cinematography by Robby Müller and a nice bluesy soundtrack, Schroeder makes no attempt to adopt any perspective but the writer's rather romanticized one and unless one derives some kind of vicarious pleasure from observing the self-destructive pair at armchair's length there isn't really a lot to be had from watching this bar the performances of the two leads.

FYI: Those interested in filmic renditions of Bukowski’s writings should check out Tales Of Ordinary Madness  (1981) and Factotum (2005) whilst the 2003 documentary Bukowski: Born Into This will reward anyone interested in finding out more about the man himself.




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