Director: Bent Hamer
Producer: Bent Hamer, Jim Stark
Writer: Bent Hamer, Jim Stark
Based on: Factotum by Charles Bulowski
Starring: Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, Didier Flamand
Music by: Kristin Asbjornsen
Cinematography: John Christian Roselund
Editor: Pal Gengenbach
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Running Time: 94 min
Matt Dillon Henry ‘Hank’ Chinaski
Lili Taylor Jan
Marisa Tomei Laura
Didier Flamand Pierre
Adrienne Shelly Jerry
Fisher Stevens Manny
Karen Young Grace
Chinaski Chinaski (Matt Dillon) is an aspiring writer struggling with alcoholism. He toils in various low life jobs only enough to pay for beer and a paper to write on. He suffers from rejection, getting fired quite often and no one wants to publish his stories. Chinaski is also accustomed to meeting unconventional characters including lonely women willing to provide a bed to sleep in and a table to write his articles.
He comes across a fellow alcoholic, Jan (Lili Taylor) in a tavern. She ends up becoming his frequent partner in the film. Chinaski settles down at her place and later engaging to her. The pair lead a peaceful and relaxed life until when Chinaski is involved in a brawl. He beats up a rich man who refuses to give up his seat at a racing track. Soon after, Chinaski and Jan split up.
He meets another lady, Laura (Marisa Tomei), who buys him a drink. However, the lady is in the company of her rich older mate Pierre (Didier Flamand). Chinaski gets into a brief adventure in Pierre’s boat and he later reunites with Jan, who has secured a job in a hotel. He also secures a cleaning job only to lose it moments later due to alcoholism.
However, Chinaski’s reunion with Jan is short lived and this time they part ways for good. Jan engages to the wealthy Pierre despite his previous confrontation with Chinaski. He finds himself alone in his comfort zone where he just enjoys being alone. The film ends with Chinaski watching a topless stripper while drinking and justifying his lifestyle.
Fuctotum, directed by Bent Hamer is a prime illustration of the novel piece by Charles Bulowski. However, the director deviates from Bukowski’s improper celebration of failure and he produces a film about defeat, opposition, and excessive drinking.
The plot is sophisticated and slow paced, but it is appealing to many of the people who find themselves in this situation. However, the producer manages to use a good casting that make the film somewhat interesting.
Chinaski is the irresponsible alcoholic who only works when he needs cash. He is fired more frequently, raising eyebrows on how he would manage his long aspired writing career. Chinaski’s irresponsibility is shown when he smokes in a restricted area, drives a van while still on the electric plug and he leaves a statue washing job to go and take alcohol.
Despite all these, he is calm in nature and only fights when fighting is the only option. Despite all this negative traits, two ladies still manage to find something attractive from him. Jan shares to his alcoholism and low life and she even tries to mend their relationship. Laura is a gold digger that tries to lure Chinaski into a more luxurious life. Pierre is a wealthy man who is always ready to pull out a fight and has taste for younger ladies.
The producer additionally brings the romantic side of the film. Despite Chinaski being a low life, two ladies are fond of him. Jan engages to him and they end up moving in together. They even have a brief spell of reunion but it doesn’t work out. However, Chinaski’s relationships tend not to work and he even later claims it is likely to occur while pursuing his career.
The attractive backdrop, enhanced picture quality, clear sound and well fitted dialogues were a highlight of the producer and his cinematographer’s abilities. However, the plot was too shallow and repetitive. It dwells too much on the main character.
In the end, it would be interesting to see Chinaski chose a different path but it ends up in just a mere monologue from him. Some kind of hardcore action in the bar, withdrawal, and crime would have added more taste to the plot.
If you are looking for something to lighten you up after a stressful day, the film would really disappoint you. The plot is relatively complex to cope up with. I really expected the film to be of more imagination and style from Bulowski’s novel, but it didn’t live up to my expectation. No wonder is scores an average of 6.6 on the rating scale from an overwhelming 13,754 votes.