Flip on the Independent Film Channel any day of the week, any hour, and chances are you’ll find a movie like Factotum. There’s a slightly heightened naturalism in the performances, locations, and quirky music: Lili Taylor plays a faded angel with a cynical shell covering a heart of gold, and the story is told through a series of tragicomic anecdotes about a lovable loser. That anti-hero is the barfly Henry Chinaski (Matt Dillon), whose life follows a regular pattern of screwing the women he’s living with, getting into brawls, landing menial labor jobs, scribbling short stories in his notebooks and mailing them to his publisher, and, most of all, drinking. Based on the rambling tales of Charles Bukowski, Factotum coasts along on the romanticized fumes of cheap wine and Dillon’s bemused voice-over. But unlike Bukowski’s character, who always makes a big deal out of living life to the fullest no matter how much life kicks you in the teeth, the film never really goes for it. It lacks the gumption and charisma to be larger than life, with a size of swagger we saw in Warren Beatty in McCabe and Mrs. Miller. “I got poetry in me!” Altman’s hero self-justifies as he stumbles through the train wreck of his life. Dillon tries to play it smaller, and his eyes seem a little too soft and his inflection a touch too mannered, but with his medium-size gut and his brawny physique, he’s a close enough approximation. In other words, Factotum passes the time without being particularly memorable. Catch it someday when you’re channel surfing and you land on IFC.
- Bent Hamer
- Bent Hamer, Jim Stark
- Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Fisher Stevens, Didier Flamand, Karen Young, Adrienne Shelly, Marisa Tomei
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