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Gonzo Girl, the review: Patricia Arquette makes her directorial debut in the name of Hunter S. Thompson

Gonzo Girl, the review: Patricia Arquette makes her directorial debut in the name of Hunter S. Thompson

The review of Gonzo Girl: Patricia Arquette’s directorial debut, presented at the Rome Film Festival, is inspired by Hunter S. Thompson, and the story of the girl who acted as his assistant; it is the opportunity to enter his world, with a style linked to the cinema of the seventies.

Gonzo Girl, the review: Patricia Arquette makes her directorial debut in the name of Hunter S. Thompson

If it weren’t for the fact that, at a certain point, Bill Clinton appears on a television screen (and for the type of fax used), we would never believe that Gonzo Girlthe directorial debut of Patricia Arquette, is set in the nineties. From the first scenes, and throughout the film, there is a smell of the Sixties and Seventies, of hippie counterculture and anarchy, of alcohol and drugs. And rock. The reason is easy to say. As we tell you in Gonzo Girl reviewpresented at the Rome Film Festival in the Grand Public section, the figure at the center of the film is Walker Reade, declared alter ego of Hunter S. Thompson, the father of Gonzo Journalism, of gonzo journalism, the one in which they play a decisive and innovative the author’s personal perceptions.

Patricia Arquette winner at the 2015 Oscars

Patricia Arquette winner at the 2015 Oscars

And so it is normal that, like the young protagonist of the film, we are catapulted into the author’s world, which is evidently linked to that era and to a lysergic and unbridled, libertine and libertarian imagination. Gonzo Girl And an excellent film because Patricia Arquette, supporting the world to which the story is linked, aligns her style with the narrated material, filming as if it were in the sixties or seventies and immersing us in that atmosphere. To which the right actors contribute.

Walker Reade and his young assistant

Gonzo Girl 1

Gonzo Girl: a photo from the film

We are in the early nineties and Aley (Camila Morrone) is a young aspiring writer who earns her living as a bartender. Her life changes when she agrees to assist Walker Reade (Willem Dafoe), the father of gonzo journalism. She will have to help him in writing his new novel: Reade in fact has writer’s block. And the publishing house seems to have given him an ultimatum. Aley then joins the writer in her house in the Rocky Mountains and enters her world of alcohol, drugs, guns and women. Gonzo Girl is inspired by Cheryl Della Pietra’s novel which recounts her experience with Hunter S. Thompson, the author of Fear and disgust in Las Vegas.

Willem Dafoe and Walker Reade

And precisely those who have seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (the film, unlike the book, is called that) know who he is Hunter S. Thompson, and associates it with the face of Johnny Depp, who was the protagonist of that film. The figure of Walker Reade, clearly inspired by him, needed an equally charismatic and histrionic actor. And so Patricia Arquette chose Willem Dafoe, a certainty when it comes to playing outsiders and borderline characters. Dafoe wears those colored glasses that were the trademark of Depp’s Thompson, but obviously he paints a personal portrait of that character, which has been betrayed to respect his essence. His very mobile face, with those wrinkles that tell a story, is perfect. But this time Dafoe works on the nuances, and manages to create an extraordinary little tremor of the jaw and muscles around the mouth, which we have never seen before.

Experience and innocence

Gonzo Girl Set

Gonzo Girl: a photo from the set

But, be careful, Willem Dafoe’s Walker Reade is indeed the central figure, the tutelary deity, but he is not the protagonist of the story. The protagonist is Aley and Gonzo Girl is her coming-of-age novel, it is the entry into adulthood, the descent into hell and back, it is Thompson’s hallucinogenic universe seen from his point of view, of someone who comes from another world and sees it with virgin eyes. For this reason, the whole story of Gonzo Girl lives on the contrast between these two characters: the rock star and the novice, the old scoundrel and the schoolgirl, experience and innocence, dusk and dawn. It is a contrast that is also physical, skin-deep. Looking at the bodies and faces of Willem Dafoe and Camila Morrone next to each other is to see wrinkled skin next to skin as smooth as that of a child.

Camila Morrone, an innate grace

And the little girl is her, Camila Morrone, once again immersed in a vintage world after the beautiful TV series Daisy Jones & The Six. A very sweet face in a pin-up body, intense eyes and an irresistible smile, we will see her go from those schoolgirl clothes to more casual clothes, representing her growth and her entry into adulthood. Camila Morrone passes through the entire film with an innate grace, an aura that will probably make her the next Hollywood star, a face reminiscent of a young Anne Hathaway or Liv Tyler. And with that look in the car, which closes the film, and which says it all.

A Pygmalion turned on acid

Gonzo Girl 2

Gonzo Girl: a scene from the film

Gonzo Girl And a film about beauty and the possibility of learning art from older people and making the most of it. It’s Pygmalion on acid, or The Devil Wears Prada meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, with Hunter S. Thompson replacing Anna Wintour. Patricia Arquette takes the opportunity to evoke Thompson’s world with a tribute to the cinema of the sixties and seventies, to the films of Cassavetes and Monty Python. He said that he used some canons of the cinema of the time, such as close-ups that are closer to those that are the close-ups of today, such as wide-angle shots, characters entering and exiting the fire. Speaking of characters, between a (useless) cameo by Sean Penn and the character of the exhausted secretary, which Patricia Arquette kept for herself, the cast also includes Elizabeth Lail, who we admired in the first season of the series Youand who here plays an insinuating and mischievous role, Reade’s lover.

Conclusions

As we explained to you in the review of Gonzo Girl, it is an excellent film because Patricia Arquette, supporting the world to which the story is linked, aligns her style with the narrated material, shooting as if it were in the sixties or seventies and immersing us in that atmosphere. To which the right actors contribute.

Because we like it

  • Hunter S. Thompson’s imagery recreated to perfection.
  • Patricia Arquette’s directing style, which recalls the cinema of the seventies.
  • The choice of actors, from Willem Dafoe to Camila Morrone.

What’s wrong

  • Some situations are reiterated a little too often, as happens in this type of film.

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