Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Posted November 13, 2008 in The Small Screen

Hunter S. Thompson, in this new documentary by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, is a man imprisoned by his own persona. After the success of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the expectations that accompanied the “gonzo” form he created sapped up his anonymity. “I used to stand in the back,” he laments in an interview, only now he’d become a central figure to the stories he covered. Gibney’s doc takes a perfect approach to thumbing through the Good Doctor’s life as a candidate for Aspen sheriff, to the caring yet “infantile” journalist, to the eccentric epicure. Ralph Steadman’s memorable sketches are used to add the psychedelic flavors, and heavy-hitting interviews with both of Thompson’s wives, his son Juan, Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Buffet, Rolling Stone wax-figure Jann Wenner, Pat Buchanan and a very affable George McGovern push the pace while deepening the man. If anything’s out of place, it’s Johnny Depp’s presence in the film, as he reads from Thompson’s works in a quasi-Hunter voice (as did as Jack Kerouac in The Source) rather than contribute insight into the man he had to become for the film. Nevertheless, Gonzo is fair. It manages to shed insight into what has always seemed to me a very fractured writer, a writer who sort of became a fictional hero in the nonfiction he reported on, without lionizing, defaming or blatantly padding his cult status. (Red Vaughn) 


Magnolia Pictures, 120 minutes

Available: November 18





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