Edinburgh '98 Film: All crises no critique
Friday 28 August 1998
FEAR AND LOATHING in Las Vegas is a bad trip. Adapted from Hunter S Thompson's demented 1970s masterpiece by Terry Gilliam, this flamboyantly unfocused film drags across the screen in an ennervating welter of visual surrealism which captures the psychotic atmosphere of Thompson's book but little of its splenetic social and political critique.
Following Thompson's alter ego Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp), and his partner in pharmaceutical crime, Dr Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), through a plotless picaresque of drug-fuelled debauchery, Fear and Loathing is less radical road movie than hysterical, one-note satire.
Maniacally mannered performances from Depp and Del Toro (who seem to be in some kind of line-slurring competition) make it impossible to get under the skin of the two-dimensional leads while, filtered through Duke's outsized, gonzo shades, everyone else on screen appears merely another monstrous mutation of 1970s repression and hypocrisy.
With such undifferentiated weirdness all around, there's little to do than laugh at the pathetic, sometimes savage excesses of Duke and Gonzo. Rather than a journey into Nixon's rotten American Dream, or even into the dark heart of Duke and Gonzo's amoral odyssey, Fear and Loathing becomes merely a hall of mirrors which endlessly warp and distort reality to fairground grotesquery.
At a Scene by Scene dissection of the movie last night, Gilliam ironically related how, when he inherited his script from sacked director Alex Cox, he became disenchanted with a story that just seemd to be about two guys on a drugs binge behaving badly over a weekend in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, his ambitious film fails to take Thompson's novel much further.
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This is what the one in ten British men who pay for sex need to know
- 2 Lee Evans announces retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 3 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Angelina Jolie confuses everyone with 'ay up me duck' East Midland's greeting to Derby actor Jack O'Connell at awards show
Lee Evans announces retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Willow and Jaden Smith talk duality of apples, holographic realities and the melancholia of the ocean in incredible New York Times interview
Winnie the Pooh banned from Polish playground for being an 'inappropriate hermaphrodite'
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie confirmed to enter jungle
Drawn Blank: Bob Dylan exhibition showcases the musician's bold and vibrant paintings
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
G20 summit: David Cameron warns Vladimir Putin that Russia's relationship with the West is at a 'fork in the road' over Ukraine
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
Coalition government has 'shifted money from poorest to better-off' through welfare cuts and tax reductions, study claims