Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Matt Dillon, Didier Flamand, Fisher Stevens, Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei

Rated: R  for language and sexual content
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: August 18, 2006 Released by: IFC Films

Those into the writings of cult writer Charles Bukowski will certainly not be disappointed with Factotum.

The title refers to a "man of many jobs" and that what Henry "Hank" Chinaski does. As played with hardly any grandstanding by Matt Dillon (at least on a par with his work in Crash), Chinaski goes from one job to another (working in a taxi and a pickle factory, among other things) because he constantly is imbibed while trying to succeed as a writer.

The character of Chinaski and the story relate to Barbet Schroeder's "Barfly" with Mickey Rourke in the same part. Factotum is a worthy counterpart in the distillation of Bukowski to the screen by nimble Norweigan director Bent Hamer. The melancholic wit is stretched deliberately in episodic fashion. Besides one case of terrible personal discomfort, Hank has a meeting with a zany, stingy French millionaire (Didier Flamand) that is emblematic of something odd, but intoxicating.

Reminiscient of some of the work of Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers), Factotum has an understated, deadpan approach that Dillon makes good on, even if there is too much of a romantic texture to Chinaski. Given the rugged lifestyle of this kind of character, he doesn't have the woozy glaze and grit especially physically endowed by Rourke. Still, he excels to a high degree as someone constantly soused, hoarse, but linguistically refined.

Hank's incessant siestas at sleazy bars have him getting into a betting gambit with a colleague (Fisher Stevens). His relationships with women are erratic but fulfill some of his priorities, not the least of which are stories submitted weekly to small press periodicals. Lili Taylor effectively captures the everyday grind of an intermittent sexual and alcoholic partner, while Marisa Tomei impresses in a lesser, yet revelatory role as a coquettish barfly.

This tale of a man drinking throughout low stress jobs lurches along wistfully with a bittersweet wryness to it that works because of the commitment of cast and crew to an unapologetic view of existing for the chronic hangover.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Factotum       B       B

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