I remember being struck by director Terry Gilliam’s intense vision while watching Brazil a few weeks ago. I remember thinking that one should only watch films like this. So it was with some trepidation that I brought home the Fear and Loathing DVD, because watching something with high expectations inevitably leads to disappointment. I needn’t have worried.
The film is absolutely incredible. It is so funny to begin with, Raoul Duke and his attorney Gonzo on their way to Vegas to cover a motorcycle derby with an incredible arsenal of drugs. Johnny’s incredibly stylistic portrayal of Duke is pure magic. Benicio is simply incredible as Gonzo. The two are so good, after a while you can’t even see Johnny or Benicio any more, just two mad guys going crazy. And then, the humour starts to turn into this dark, uncomfortable vibe, the laughs are still there but by now you’re suffering extreme discomfort.
The script is a winner all the way, constantly surprising with such amazing lines as “At last we found our way back to the hotel room. The key wouldn’t open the door.” Anyone who’s been to Amsterdam will surely relate to that feeling. The great thing about the whole thing is the ludicrousness of the situation. These two guys walking around doing large quantities of drugs and no one seems to mind. There are no obstacles in the path of our heroes except their own madness.
The whole production of this movie was so cool. Listening to Gilliam’s commentary later, I realised that so much of this movie was improvised. Gilliam likes to set up the scene and then let it play itself out, which is when one realises, I suppose, what truly gifted actors the leading pair are.
I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.