Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

This late nineties film, directed by the incredible mind of Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, Brazil), was nothing short of fantastic. It is pretty hard to describe exactly what happened – and I do believe that was Gilliam’s point. It’s a rambling, jolting experience.

What I loved about the film is twofold: I loved Johnny Depp’s performance. This is before Pirates of the Caribbean, but you can see where he began the character. That being said, Depp’s character in this film is weirder than Capt. Jack because well, he’s a drug-addled Hunter S. Thompson running through L.A. with his lawyer (Benicio Del Toro) where they do unknown levels of nearly every drug on the planet. Which is, apparently, nearly autobiographical. Sweet. There isn’t a moment where Depp doesn’t have a cigarette in his mouth – even when a rag is covering it (either for huffing ether or for covering against dust).

The cinematography is the other thing I absolutely adore about this flick. The scenes are consistently jam-packed with stuff – the screen is hardly surrounded by nothingness. The camera is almost consistently on an angle, making everything else seem warped. I suppose  I should say that I was a little bit under the influence while watching (honestly, merely tipsy) and I am unsure if the cinematography or my slight inebriation helped in seeing what the characters saw. I mean, I felt as if I was on their “trip” – everything was so brilliantly colored and crazily shot that it felt like an acid trip. I’m going to give it to the cinematographer.

All in all, the film surprised me with how accessible it was. Despite the length (just over 2 hours), much of the film is accessible in the sense that no one expects it to make sense. With that in mind, the audience is allowed to drift in here and there and not be upset if something is not understood – everyone else is in the same boat.

Terry Gilliam rarely makes a film that I do not thoroughly enjoy and this is no exception. Highly recommended.