Having Matt Dillon play author/oddjobber Charles Bukowski (as his alterego Henry Chinaski) might seem like a strange fit. Dillon's a good-looking guy whose only vice these days is caffeine; Bukowski was a paunchy, acne-scarred slob who liked a drink or 20. Dig deeper and it makes sense, though: a younger Dillon shared much the same lifestyle (booze, womanising, fame) and he now evokes a similar mix of angst and soul.
Tapping into the spirit of his subject rather than attempting a physical transformation, Dillon shuffles from menial job to seedy bar to menial job. He also finds time to have a flutter on the ponies and share a sweet-but-tempestuous relationship with Lili Taylor's fellow drifter, Jan. And that's it.
This cheap-as-pork-scratchings indie softens the source novel's edges but still thrums with courage and truth. Seek it out and it'll touch your heart.
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