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USA 1998
Directed by
Terry Gilliam
119 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

One can understand the desire to film the Hunter S. Thompson’s autobiographical 70s cult classic which gives this film its name. Universal originally chose cult director Alex Cox (Repo Man and Sid & Nancy) to write and direct but that went belly up due to 'creative differences'. He was replaced by another cult director,Terry Gilliam (Cox retained a co-writing credit with Tod Davies). Seeing the outcome one can’t help but wonder if they should have tried cult director David Cronenberg whose Naked Lunch (1991) was a considerably more effective take on the warped world of the drug user.

Gilliam sticks close to Thompson’s text but the problem with this approach is that the latter is clearly a high subjectivised, fanatastically exaggerated, account of real proceedings. Translated literally to the screen it comes across as one long and very unfunny Cheech and Chong style bad taste drug joke shot in lurid colours. Johnny Depp (looking like a sawn-off John Malkovich) dutifully stumbles around vaudeville style (and narrates, a device that was in Cox's original script) whilst Benicio Del Toro is slightly more credible as his no-account lawyer, Dr Gonzo. Proceedings are propped up with the chart-topping hits of the era and cameos from people like Ellen Barkin and Harry Dean Stanton but nothing can assuage the disappointment than a classic text so profoundly failed to become a classic film.

 

 

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