Thursday, November 3, 2011

Film Review--Drugstore Cowboy


starring Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, Heather Graham, James LeGros, William S. Burroughs, and Khloe Kardashian as The Beav.

A quartet of drug users in 1970s Oregon feed their habit by robbing drug stores.  They're also quite a superstitious lot.  Eventually, as it does with anyone living their lifestyle, luck begins to run out.

I wanted to see this film for two reasons.  First of all, William Burroughs has a cameo role in the picture as Tom the Priest, a sort of mentor to those in and out of drug addiction.  He even wrote uncredited dialogue for the script.  Secondly, the film was directed by Gus Van Sant and I tend to enjoy his work.  Yes, even My Own Private Idaho.
Drugstore Cowboy tends to be more coherent than My Own Private Idaho with a fairly straightforward narrative, but there are still the artful montages and transitions between scenes, such as when Matt Dillon's character goes on about the bad luck of a hat being upon a bed.  In the intercut, several hats waft lazily upward into a multicolored sky.  Burroughs is brilliant, though his role is short.  His unique voice and brief monologues were the highlight of the film for me.
This is a good movie, all in all, albeit a bit bleak.  I would list it as an exemplary piece of postmodern filmmaking as Matt Dillon's character faces a situation that is loaded with most bittersweet irony.  He attempts to do the right thing, the healthy thing, and kick his addiction.  So he gets into a treatment program, proven to work by clinicians or so they say, and gets a job in a factory doing nothing but drilling holes in metal every day.  Day in.  Day out.  The same thing.  The sober life is slow, it is boring, it is hell.  I am not by any means recommending drug usage nor do I believe that Van Sant does either in making this film.  It is fiction after all.  I see it as a means of pointing out a true irony that in Dillon's saving of his body he might have killed his spirit.  As with many things in life, it's damned if you do and damned if you don't. 

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