Gus Van Sant directs Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill and Rooney Mara in this real life tale of alcoholic / paraplegic / cartoonist John Callahan.
A very choppy, off putting experience. It wants to be an uplifting tale of recovery through art that retains a gallows humour and hipster detachment from manipulation. It plays like failed awards whore. The film is at its best when out living it large on a tragic bender with its doomed protagonist. Phoenix is just about fine in a role that often comes across as mawkish, badgering and self serving but his co stars (Hill, Mara, Jack Black) all interact with him with so little chemistry and so much etherealness that you are waiting for one or all three to reveal themselves as a fantasy figure. When nearly all of your big name supports ring so so false I assumed they are figments of the lead’s imagination then you know something has gone fundamentally wrong translating the narrative to screen. Neither a story well told nor particularly worth telling (some of his cartoons are snort inducing but I doubt we’d be watching a film about John Callahan the able bodied, sober, satirist).