Film Reviews, Short Review

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

3/4

Tempting as it might be to make a documentary about Hunter S. Thompson exclusively about the man’s legendary substance-fuelled binges, it probably wouldn’t make for a very insightful film. Alex Gibney’s doc should be congratulated then for instead providing ample discussion on what made Thompson’s writing tick (something many docs on creative figures don’t really do about their subjects). Formally, there is the usual array of talking heads and archive interviews, but it’s particularly interesting to watch how Gibney charts Thompson’s late-career dive, as Thompson began to struggle with the overriding media image of him as a crazy gun-toting alcoholic rather than a writer; the act of being Hunter S. Thompson/Dr. Gonzo surpassing being Hunter S. Thompson. The film is overall a bit too effusive (it would have been nice to see some more probing into the man’s many contradictions), but as an introduction to what Hunter S. Thompson is about, this is a fine work.

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