Saturday, May 01, 2010

"Factotum" (2005) - Movie Review

“Factotum” is a misnomer for Hank Chinaski (Matt Dillon), the low life of this film. He navigates from one job to another as a wave of changing mind than actually performing it. He is at the drain to be flushed out, not by the society but by himself. This film is about his attempt to push his envelope further down. Down and down, again and again. He succeeds in every step of his way, improvising effectively. This is not a pleasant person. He is a drunk, chain smoker, a spiteful character who is absent of any possible evidence of consideration to others and he does so by laboriously being insensitive in passive actions. He is writer’s dream which is to have a character to fathom, explore and explain to the readers of a book and the audience of a film.

It is adapted from the novel of the same name by Charles Bukowski. Bukowski is considered to be an expert writing about these kind of characters and the lives they lead. He himself is a one from the information I gather. Chinaski’s taste for irresponsibility is simply put in first scene. He drives a cooler truck without unplugging it from the socket and drinks at the delivery place leaving the ice to melt in the truck. Irresponsibility is going easy on Hank.

Hank writes, always. That is the purest form of work he ever does with passion, honesty and consideration. All for himself than a reader. Words are the only place he is justifiable and meaningful. Rest of his life is a planned and accepted disaster. May be that is his job for writing well. May be to experience it first hand. The experience of losing a soul within the body and rupture in the dirt and debauchery of the city.

Hank is also a great procrastinator. Now you may think that it comes with the package but no, he does it as an art. His procrastination goes through lifting his leg up to walk and even hold the cigarette in his hand. This is a man wanting to be Travis Bickle without the motivation to kill any one. It is impossible to let go of a character like this for someone like Matt Dillon. He takes it and does everything he possibly could. He succeeds and cherishes his role. Despite the critical and box office success there will be a work for a devoted actor to remember. When they find it, they hold on to it tightly and proudly. As much as “Factotum” might personally is a tough movie to judge, Matt Dillon can take his efforts and dedication to pull his character around with honour and pride.

“Factotum” begins with this man and ends with him where he started. He is though gone beneath everything above the Earth. This alcoholic finds a woman. This is Jan (Lili Taylor), another alcoholic. How they meet is unnecessary because they are meant to rot together. Hank moves in the day after they met and begins to continue his life style. He also gets a job in a bike warehouse. There he finds a friend of convenience. Manny (Fisher Stevens) and Hank share the passion for betting on a horse and they do well. For a while and thought Hank leads a life with money. He appears to be changed but he is not.

The film is a continuous stretch of Hank’s organized failures. It is not about hopelessness but it is about a writer’s twisted mind to go all the way to collect his material. He does not say it and the story does not hint it. This is a personal observation which the writer himself would deny it. He involves himself with this pathetic life. That can be the only reason for this man full of words and wisdom. He recites his writing to his viewer, saying how we pursue our life and frustrating while doing it.

Director Bent Hamer absorbs the material and appear to have worked each and every word of the material. The book happens in the 40s at the midst of World War - II but Hamer makes it for the sinking today for Hank and Jan. There are no solace, comfort or redemption. Despite these low moments and constant self destruction Hank does, “Factotum” begins with aspiration and ends with one too. It provides its point and the reason for its exercise in the end. It is a too devastating to realize the stretch of a writer’s honesty. That is both admiring and saddening. On one hand, Hank has provided his most honest writing by going through with this. On the other hand, he has become that person he writes about. He does not appear to enjoy the life he leads and does not aspire to shake out of it. Every smallest step towards it is immediately put off with a distractive booze.

“Factotum” is not a pleasing film. It made me unsettling and boring in the sandwiched layer of this wretched livelihood. The love or the supposed love Hank begins to have and finally associate with himself towards Jan becomes effortless to us in the end. He leaves us on a high note saying the most unexpected, unusual wise words for him and yet the most truthful. “If you try, go all the way. Otherwise do not even start”. Hank chooses the worst decision of leading this life. And he does not try but goes all the way. There is no turning back.

1 comment:

Verde Cura said...

man, you really don't get it what bukowski is about.