An adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name, this film details a drug-induced search for the “American Dream,” by Thompson, played by Johnny Depp, and his crazed, Samoan lawyer (Benicio Del Toro). Fueled by the massive amount of drugs they purchased with an advance from a magazine to cover a sporting event in Vegas; they set out in the Red Shark. Encountering police, reporters, gamblers, racers, and hitchhikers, they search for some undefinable thing know only as the “American Dream” and find fear, loathing and odd adventures into the dementia of the modern American West. Directed by Terry Gilliam (The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasis, Brazil).
Rating: 8 out of 10
Is there a more talented actor working today than Johnny Depp? If there is, I can’t think of one. He doesn’t just play a character, he completely inhabits the role. Here he plays Raoul Duke, a writer who goes to Las Vegas with an unlimited expense account and a penchant for experimenting with every drug imaginable including ether, acid, marijuana and cocaine all packed neatly in a suitcase that he carries around as if it were his child.
It’s important to note that this film is not linear. You could throw it in at almost any point and you’re going to capture part of the experience. This is completely done on purpose by director Terry Gilliam who is known to be infatuated by the surrealistic works of Fellini and Antoniono. In other words, it breaks the standard linear way we’re used to absobing stories and breaks it down into individual moments of a larger experience without a true Macguffin or story arc. And, it is done to great effect here. We are put in the shoes of an eccentric drug addict and his partner in crime (played brilliantly by Oscar-winning actor Benicio DelToro) as to what the world would look like through his eyes. Everything we see is an exaggerated haze of emotions and visuals. While some may find this to be a bit overwhelming, I found that it was an interesting way to experience a film that is unlike any other.