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.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
This house and dental clinic 'piled up like bricks on the brink of collapsing' is why Japan wins at architecture
Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict