DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT

Joaquin goes to ’toon…

Total Film - - Big Screen - James Mot­tram

OUT 26 OC­TO­BER

Gus Van Sant de­liv­ers one of his more per­sonal films with this bi­o­graph­i­cal tale of Port­land car­toon­ist John Cal­la­han. A story brought to him by the late Robin Wil­liams, af­ter their col­lab­o­ra­tion on Good Will Hunt­ing, this too touches on ther­apy and self­heal­ing. Cal­la­han (Joaquin Phoenix) is a heavy drinker, and it’s an ill-fated hook-up with Jack Black’s par­ty­hound that leads him to a car ac­ci­dent.

Paral­ysed and in a wheel­chair, Cal­la­han’s booz­ing gets worse un­til he finds his way to a re­hab group run by Jonah Hill’s touchy-feely soul-saver, with Kim Gor­don and Beth Ditto as fel­low pa­tients. Just as his car­toons gath­ered as many de­trac­tors as ad­mir­ers for their con­tro­ver­sial con­tent, so Cal­la­han ar­rives as a dis­rup­tive, ob­nox­ious pres­ence.

Phoenix hits the right notes of screw-you bit­ter­ness and sar­donic hu­mour through­out. And with Van Sant adopt­ing an ap­peal­ingly loose-limbed struc­ture, the only mis­step is a mis­cast Rooney Mara as Annu, the an­gelic Swedish phys­i­cal ther­a­pist Cal­la­han falls for. Oth­er­wise, this is a win­ning re­turn to form for Van Sant.

THE VER­DICT

A punchy, poignant and hon­est por­trayal of re­cov­ery, Phoenix and Van Sant’s re­union is cause for cel­e­bra­tion.

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