For No Good Reason
For No Good Reason casts a brief and bright light on the career of Ralph Steadman, an English illustrator whose quirky, passionate and often politically motivated work has him walking the line between artist, cartoonist and social protestor. His best recognised work is the result of collaborations between Steadman and Hunter S. Thompson, most notably the crazed and depraved illustrations of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
The documentary uses a visit to Steadman’s home by Johnny Depp (who played Thompson in the film version of Fear and Loathing) as the lens through which we meet the man behind the fragmented ink blotches. Over the course of the film, Steadman reveals the technical ways that he works as an artist – sometimes it only takes a quick flick of the wrist over a blank canvas to create something that surprises even himself (“If I knew what was going to happen before I started, what would be the point in doing it?”) – as well as his influences (from Da Vinci to Rembrant).
Through retelling the major pinnacles of his career, Steadman uncovers the stimuli, primarily the social injustices, that led him to dedicate his career trying to “change the world” through evocative and often aggressively honest artwork. While For No Good Reason is set primarily around Steadman’s relationship (both professional and personal) with the late Thompson, it also delves into other projects and highlights of his career. Decades-old footage of William S. Burroughs trying to shoot a painting, gun trembling between unsteady hands, is certainly one such gem.
Director Charlie Paul’s approach is the engaging juxtaposition of intimate interview-style talking-head segments intertwined with corresponding archival film footage and stop-motion animated versions of Steadman’s artwork. Pulled along with a gorgeous and contemporary soundtrack, the documentary is teeming with the movement, colour and creation of the artwork it discusses – nothing like other films in its genre. Ultimately, For No Good Reason is not a simple documentary detailing the life of an artist, but a work of art in itself, another contribution to that innocent yet pivotal belief that the world still can be changed by art… that the world still needs to be changed by art.
For No Good Reason is released in selected cinemas on 30th May 2014.
Watch the trailer for For No Good Reason here: