Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Not A Hat In Sight.

It's always kind of disappointing when you watch a film with the word 'cowboy' in the title and don't see a single person dressed up in the uniform. We all love cowboys, right?

Drugstore Cowboy did, however, foster an appreciation of Matt Dillon that I hadn't previously had. Gus Van Sant (who also put Dillon in his 1995 film To Die For) crafted this adaptation and pulled out a stellar performance from Dillon that put him on the map critically, well before his Oscar nom for (vomits on shoes) Crash in 2004.

Dillon plays Bob, a small-time thief married to Kelly Lynch's Dianne. They're both hopeless drug addicts, hanging out with Rick (James Le Gros) and Nadine (Heather Graham) with whom they put on elaborate melodramas to distract pharmacy (or drugstore - get it?) clerks whilst they sneak into the dispensary and nab whatever they can to get high. Run out of town by police officer Gentry (James Remar - it bugged me all through the film that I couldn't work out where I knew his face from, and a quick IMDb placed him as Samantha's long-term on-off lover Richard Wright in the Sex And The City series) they head cross-country and repeatedly get more than they bargain for. Eventually, Bob decides to go clean, something Dianne doesn't want - they break up, Bob reconvenes with an old friend Tom The Priest (William S Burroughs - hilarious) but still can't make it all work out for himself.

It's a different examination of addiction and what drives it, because it is not dark. These people aren't depressed. You don't often see them jumpy and pining for a fix. They like their drugs, they steal them, and they generally live happily ever after. It's surprisingly upbeat for the most part, unlike many other drug films (Oz titles Little Fish and Candy come to mind - and I'm not saying that downbeat drug films are bad. I quite like those two titles, especially the first. It's just... different.)

This is a very confident Gus Van Sant laying the foundations for a constantly eye-opening career with only his second feature (after the rarely-seen Mala Noche four years before.) You can feel him preparing for My Own Private Idaho, and even much later films such as Elephant, but he practices far more restraint precursing his more 'mainstream' product such as To Die For and his recent Milk. His specific stylings are evident, but they do not overpower the films.

All round, a very good film. There isn't a lot to criticise in it, except probably the fact that it doesn't quite hit you in the face like much of Van Sant's other work. It's still a 4 star effort, however.

No comments:

Post a Comment