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USA 1987
Directed by
Barbet Schroeder
97 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


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

Penned by Bukowski himself, the film is a series of episodes set in Los Angeles in the eternal twilight of grubby neon-lit bars populated by life's lost souls to whom Henry is the hero of sorts, a Skid Row Don Quixote. Whilst the film is well enough made with some suitably raw cinematography by Robby Müller and a nice bluesy soundtrack, aspects combined persuasively in the opening credits Schroeder makes no attempt to adopt any perspective but the writer's highly romanticized and evidently incongruous one.

Unless you derive some kind of vicarious pleasure from observing the self-destructive pair as they stagger from bar to convenience store to squalid digs in an endless quest to stay drunk, 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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