Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) Director: Terry Gilliam
a jpoc movie review
Drug fuelled existentialism
Main Cast
Johnny Depp Raoul Duke (Hunter S. Thompson)
Benicio Del Toro Dr. Gonzo (Oscar Zeta Acosta)
Rating & viewing notes
Four out of ten.

I watched this on DVD lent to me by a friend in Munich.

You can buy this movie, the original book, screenplay, soundtrack etc from
amazon.com
Screenplay Soundtrack Dramatisation
amazon.co.uk
Screenplay Soundtrack Dramatisation
The review
The book, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was described by many as unfilmable but it held a strong fascination and eventually, after at least one false start, Terry Gilliam managed to create this movie. Some describe it as unwatchable while others rave about one of the greatest films of all time.

The original book was written by famous sports journalist Hunter S. Thompson. While it is not an autobiography in the strictest sense, the two main characters: Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) are based on Thompson and Oscar Zeta Acosta his attorney.

The movie covers a long weekend, in the course of which, Thompson is sent to Las Vegas to cover a desert bike race and he opts to take his friend and attorney Dr Gonzo along. They pack, and subsequently consume a substantial quantity and range of drugs and spend the weekend on a drug fuelled binge of paranoia in which they totally fail to cover the bike race.

It's not really a story, just a series of events happening to two men who push themselves to the limits of what they can take and what their society will let them get away with.

Johnny Depp does a fine job in the role of Duke. It is a seemingly impossible role and yet he carries it off. Few if any other actors could have done so. Del Toro on the other hand barely raises his character above the standard that you would expect of a character in something that included the words "National Lampoon" in the title. Despite cameos by, among others, Cameron Diaz and Harry Dean Stanton (respectively as "Blonde in Elevator" and "Judge in Dream Sequence") there are no other parts. Just walk on roles which are there to be mistreated by the two protagonists.

In place of other actors, there is a constant running narration from Duke and that is the main thing that holds this movie together. Despite that being a widely discredited idea, here it not only works but it is necessary.

Who would enjoy this movie then? Mostly, the appeal of this movie is on the level of voyeurism but it is not without merit. It does expand our idea of what can be made into a movie. If this kind of weirdness appeals, I suggest that you check out Alex Cox's "Repo Man" or Gregg Araki's "Nowhere".


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