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Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

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Everyday hardships are front and centre in Gus Van Sant’s altogether conventional Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, a heartstring-tugging biopic of cult American cartoonist John Callahan, who was rendered quadriplegic by a car accident at the age of 21, and who battled alcoholism for much of his life. Honing in largely on Callahan’s tortuous journey to sobriety, the film is a loose-limbed, good-natured affair, with Joaquin Phoenix bringing raw anguish and acerbic wit to the central role. Stealing the show, however, is Jonah Hill as Callahan’s wealthy, gay AA sponsor, who dresses like a disco-era Jesus and has the demeanour of a louche soothsayer. It’s disappointing, then, when Van Sant indulges his schmaltzier side – scenes in which Callahan hallucinates interactions with his estranged birth mother are particularly patience-testing. Still, in the wake of recent disasters like the risible, suicide-themed The Sea of Trees, it’s by some distance the once-great queer auteur’s best film since 2008’s Milk.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot | Directed by Gus Van Sant (US 2018) with Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill. Starts August 16.

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