DON'T WORRY, HE WON'T GET FAR ON FOOT – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Brilliant is the first word I would use to describe this new film from Gus Van Sant. Brutal would have to be the next word I would use, because this film is based on the memoir of the late John Callahan, a cartoonist, artist, and musician in Portland, Oregon who was noted for dealing with macabre subjects and physical disabilities.
In the film, we meet John (Joaquin Phoenix) when he is 21 and he becomes a quadriplegic due to an auto accident. Until his injury, he spent his time drunk or getting drunk. After his painful time in rehab where the only good thing was his meeting and working with Annu (Rooney Mara), who later would become his love interest we see him flounder around, lost and without purpose.
The film takes its time following him thru rehab to hitting rock bottom as he struggles in a drunken rage to reach a fallen bottle of wine his caretaker gave him before he left for the day. Then, we watch as he attends AA meetings and does the work to get to the point where he can dry out and rediscover his art that he had lost at the bottom of many bottles of booze.
He meets a sponsor in AA named Donnie (Jonah Hill) who is rich, flamboyant, and not afraid to call John on his bullshit he really starts dealing with his demons.
This is not a feel-good movie. It has lots of humor but is dark and a bit twisted – much like the cartoons John created. This movie is actually really uncomfortable in some scenes. Drinking is not portrayed as glamorously in this movie as it is in say The Hangover trilogy. Add to that the reality of John adjusting to life in a wheelchair and you really have a tough story. However hard it is at times to watch, you must do it because skinny Jonah Hill is perfect as the all-knowing Donnie. Also, for any fans of Joaquin Phoenix, he gives the best performance of his career thus far. He inhabits the troubled John Callahan and brings him to life in a nuanced performance that will not be forgotten come Oscar time.
Director Gus Van Sant originally was working with the late Robin Williams who had the rights to this book to bring this to the screen. We can only imagine what Mr. Williams would have done with the part, but make no mistake, Joaquin Phoenix makes this role entirely his own. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot is a great film and I give it a solid A rating.
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Selig Rating A
Running Time 1hr 53min
Biography/Drama / Comedy
Limited Release: Magnolia Cinema, Look Cinemas Prestonwood
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.