Farse (US); 1998;
Rated R; 118 Minutes
Johnny Depp: Raoul Duke
Benicio Del Toro: Dr. Gonzo
Craig Bierko: Lacerda
Christina Ricci: Lucy
Produced by Harold
Bronson, Patrick Cassavetti, Richard Foos, John Jergens,
Laila Nabulsi, Stephen Nemeth and Elliot Lewis Rosenblatt;
Directed by Terry Gilliam; Screenwritten by
Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni, Tad Davies and Alex Cox; based
on the novel written by Hunter S. Thompson
by DAVID KEYES
Gilliam's "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" is a triumph
of direction over plot, imagination over treatment, and
conception over realism. The movie is a masterpiece on terms
other than those which would normally get a film a four
star rating. Watching movies, we often look for the treatment
of plot, characters, and concept in order for the material
to work on screen. I'm willing to admit that "Fear And Loathing
In Las Vegas" may not be totally perfect in these areas,
but still, the movie is a great one. Why, you ask? It's
all in the concept of imagination and creativity.
you watch movies like "Dazed In Confused," in which characters
attempt to be funny by smoking pot and doing other drugs,
things do not turn out for the best. These movies are almost
doomed to total failure, because nothing is funny about
these things. The only movie that managed to spark feeling
and emotion into the drugs and managed to be funny was "Trainspotting,"
and now comes "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas," which, instead
of sparking emotion and feeling, provokes free-flowing creativity
with every scene that its main characters are featured in.
Watching it, I was shocked in how quickly I absorbed myself
into it. I was smiling at the constantly-corny jokes, enjoying
the characters, and loving the story. Based on an acclaimed
novel, "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" is one of the greatest
films in the past ten years.
star here is none other than Johnny Depp, a man who, after
"Edward Scissorhands," seemed to disappear from public popularity.
Here, he is back in full swing, playing a journalist of
some sorts named Raoul Duke, who comes across the opportunity
for a story in Las Vegas. He heads to this fabulous location
with his assistant Dr. Gonzo, played by Benicio Del Toro,
whom, you may notice, has put on weight for the role. Both
are always drugged up by a supply of 'reefer' they have
in the trunk of their car, and neither of them go anywhere
without it. By the time they get to their destination, the
pretty lights and bright colors are almost too much for
them. Their sights and senses become completely disorganized,
and before you know it, they're seeing weird shapes, weird
colors, and other weird things emerge from the crowds they
pass by. We see these things, too, as if the direction of
the film from here on out is being portrayed through the
very eyes of one of these druggies.
conception is refreshing on this type of material, considering
that it seems somewhat related to that of "Dazed And Confused."
The movie is simply about having a good time, and by george,
these dudes have it, either by insulting others or by shouting
out blundering (but observant) dialogue right there on the
street. The movie kept my attention from beginning to end.
Though it got bad reviews in its initial release, I'm quick
to warn you that it's not a bad movie. It's a great movie.
Normally, it wouldn't get the whole four stars, but since
the material and approach stayed on my mind for months and
months, it deserves the whole amount.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.