06th Nov2018

‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Tony Greenhand, Beth Ditto, Mark Webber, Ronnie Adrian, Kim Gordon, Udo Kier, Carrie Brownstein | Written and Directed by Gus Van Sant


Gus Van Sant’s biopic Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a beautifully melancholic coy and frequently dark passage and resulting examination of addiction and pain in the short, but the remarkably artistic life of John Callahan. Callahan, played by the extraordinary talented Joaquin Pheonix, who injects such passion and character into a cold story. The energy and understanding of such a script and the character are what Pheonix excels in throughout his career. Nothing ever feels like a cash grab, nor fluke in his strongest most marvellous performances and his spectacular rendition in Van Sant’s film is nothing short of perfect.

Understanding the pain of Callahan’s distress and the resulting problems that arise from this incredibly sad and tormenting issue are conveyed in quite an unusual aspect. The alcohol addiction that ultimately begins the picture is never actually demonised nor used to suggest pain, only pleasure and peace. The controlling substance actually gifts Callahan the opportunity to role play of sorts into society and not live on the outskirts of human interaction. An interesting oxymoron and somewhat obtuse decision by Gus Vant that works perfectly and effectively to showcase the depth and level of the dependency, especially considering the events that occur further into Callahan’s life and the exploration of his life choices that offer a fascinating and ultimately euphoric experience in challenging demons.

Gus Vant Sant also subjects his audience to an unusual, albeit attractive structure and edit of his film. In simple terms, it’s all over the place, back and forth throughout the life and emotional timeline of Callahan in the film, stretching from sober, intoxicated and emotionally rattled. At first glance, it feels inconsistent and problematic due to the context of the films fall and rise theme. Scattered and convoluted. However, as the film progresses it’s clear that this aspect of production is utilised to contextually convey John’s discombobulated state, to evoke the sense of fleeting and corrupted time passing.

Jonah Hill impresses with a whats essentially a bloated cameo as an eccentric sponsor to Callahan and with every moment on screen, he steals every second with wonderful charism and poetic poignancy leading to what is, unfortunately, a far too quick and abrupt ending for a captivating character that lifts the film whenever on screen.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is available on DVD and Blu-ray (in the US) now from Lionsgate. The Blu-ray includes two featurettes: Inside the Accident; and Inside the Hospital.


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