Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
Based on the real-life story of American cartoonist John Callahan, an alcoholic who was made quadriplegic in a drink-driving collision caused by his friend, this brutally honest yet sensitive film is a sobering experience. Gus Van Sant is never one to succumb to cinematic clichés. Instead we are offered genuine character-driven humour, nuanced performances and an ultimately uplifting and poignant feature considering the serious subject matter. In other hands this story might have been somewhat bland but with a stellar if not surprisingly eclectic cast, pacey cinematography and a jazz-infused score we are taken on an intriguing, difficult but ultimately hopeful journey and, much like for our protagonist, it’s one we may not have quite expected.
Jonah Hill is captivating as a gay trust-funded sponsor for Alcoholics Anonymous, the members of which are portrayed by actors also deserving of special mention. Beth Ditto is particularly moving as an affectionate but straight-talking alcoholic. Udo Kier and Kim Gordon offer such realistic performances that viewers will genuinely believe their every facial expression, gesture and each word uttered. Jack Black, playing the character who crashed the car, also offers some of his finest and arguably most memorable work, evoking both laughs and tears during his comparatively short screen time. Understated performances are of course effective when exploring such a serious issue and, for this, lead actor Joaquin Phoenix sets the bar high – no pun intended. With an almost uncomfortable level of pain radiating from him at times, he, like Black, also manages to inject humour, which is reiterated through animations of the real Callahan’s cartoons, incorporated throughout.
With a fragmented time structure, perhaps mirroring both the world of an alcoholic and a person trying to reassemble himself, some might feel the film is initially confusing. The short, snappy scenes intertwined with some long, lingering moments ultimately allow for a fast pace, however, as we are taken on this exciting journey. Exciting not because of CGI or explosions but rather because of the explosive acting, writing and direction. It’s testament to all involved in the picture that at times it’s so real and raw that it feels like a documentary, albeit a highly captivating one.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot will no doubt leave many with a hangover in terms of its moving performances and hard-hitting subject matter but it’s an intoxicating cinematic experience well worth the ride.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is released in select cinemas on 26th October 2018.
Watch the trailer for Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot here: