Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot: Film Review

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot: Film Review


Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill, Jack Black
Director: Gus Van Sant

A heady mix of life-affirming biography, swirled in with a truly chameleonic performance from Joaquin Phoenix as Oregon slacker John Callahan, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot shouldn't really work.
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot: Film Review

After all, it's the usual trappings of a illness TV movie of the week - guy wrecks his life, guy tries to put his life back together. But what it is about Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot that works is simply, Phoenix.

Callahan was paralysed after a car accident at the age of 21, in which the driver, a fellow alcholic played with anarchic glee by Jack Black, walked away scot free. Callahan was not so lucky, choosing to go down the path of self-destruction before ultimate redemption, and discovering a penchant for black-humoured cartoons.

A patchwork portmanteau start sees Van Sant messing with timelines, a twitchy holding-you-at-arms-length approach which takes some getting used to. But as the story treads its familiar route, it's peppered with such warmth and disarming moments of humour and reality that its sentiment wins you over (even if it dangerously veers close to overdose at times, and showcases some of the lesser written characters, such as Mara's carer / girlfriend).
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot: Film Review

Thankfully, Phoenix delivers another stunning performance.

Whether it's Callahan going hell for leather in his wheelchair through the streets, or making his own denials about what his mother did to him, Phoenix takes every moment and makes it his own, overcoming the script's occasional weaknesses and the somewhat sanitised view of life in a wheelchair.

It's impossible not to feel something for Callahan in this, and Phoenix is the main reason why, along with the anarchic tones and touches deployed throughout. Solid support comes from an early unrecognisable Jonah Hill, whose Jesus Christ-like hippy sponsor becomes central to peripherary proceedings.
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot: Film Review

Never stronger than when it uses some deftly off-kilter touches to develop the film from above its overtly familiar roots, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot trades a careful line between inspiring and irritating.

In the end though, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot works, and hits a level of affecting which is as surprising as it is moving.

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