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Factotum (2005)

Cast: Matt Dillon, Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, more...
Director: Bent Hamer, Bent Hamer
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Studio: IFC Films / Genius Products
Genre: Drama, Independent
Running Time: 94 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Norwegian director Bent Hamer follows up his quirky and critically acclaimed Kitchen Stories with a heartbreakingly humorous look at the life of depressive writer Hank Chinaski -- the fictional counterpart of real-life author Charles Bukowski. Adapted from Bukowski's 1975 novel of the same name, Hamer's film follows the perpetually unemployed, alcohol-swilling Cinaski (Matt Dillon) as he drifts through the city streets in search of a job that won't come between him and his first love, writing. Consistently rejected by the only publishing house he respects but driven to continue by the knowledge that he could do better than the authors they continually publish, Cinaski soon begins sleeping with fellow barfly Jan (Lili Taylor), a kindred spirit he meets while drowning his sorrows at a local watering hole. When a brief stint as a bookie finds Hank abandoned by the only woman with whom he is able to relate, a brief fling with gold-digging floozy Laura (Marisa Tomei) finds him once again falling into a morose state of perpetual drunkenness and unemployment. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

"Gutsy" by talltale December 28, 2006 - 4:32 PM PST
4 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Spending time with the folk of FACTOTUM is a major chore. Based on the writing of Charles Bukowski, the film offers a main character who is a barely camouflaged version of the author as an antisocial drunk who can't quite engage with anyone except, perhaps, a woman during the sex act or a co-worker (but only at the racetrack). I am probably conflating Bukowski the man with Bukowski the writer, although neither seems of enormous interest to me after seeing the much better documentary "Bukowski: Born Into This" and now this lesser piece of filmmaking from Bent Hamer (the Norwegian director who gave us the sterling "Kitchen Stories").

Hamer's technique is pretty much unadorned point-the-camera-and-let-it-roll, and this style-less style seems to have steamrolled the life out of much of the performances. Fine actresses like Marissa Tomei and Karen Young are utterly wasted, and in her last role, the late Adrienne Shelley barely registers. Only Lili Taylor is moment-to-moment "there," but then, this actress is generally unassailable. Matt Dillon must have gained some weight for his lead role; with his noticeable paunch it is tempting to call his performance "gutsy," although it tends to be, as Bukowski may well have been, one-note.

Particularly bizarre is the almost complete lack of believable time frame: Is this the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s? All seem to pop up along the way, due maybe to budget constraints. "Factotum" is listed as a comedy, and while you may chuckle now and again, this is comedy due mostly to lack of ostensible tragedy. Hamer's "Kitchen Stories" has loads more charm, and its characters--quiet and uncommunicative as they are--prove in the end to be much easier company. If you watch the final credits, you'll note that the film is dedicated to the late Katrin Cartlidge, a splendid actress whom the director may well have imagined in one or another of the female roles here.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.45)
40 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2005
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.

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