Opens Fri April 23
Clinton Street Theater
Breakfast with Hunter is definitely for fans. The documentary on the loquacious pioneer of "gonzo journalism," Hunter S. Thompson, does little to explain its content. Rather than acting as a retrospective, biographical exposition, or analysis of the man, its coverage is mostly limited to the late '90s, when films were already being remade about the guy.
Thompson is a flamboyant figure for sure, with his trademark marble mouth speech interpreted in subtitles throughout the documentary. He is usually filmed drinking whiskey, although his behavior never seems to vary much. He's either always drunk or "just like that."
The film's coverage of Thompson's exploits is rather scattered, veering from his youthful campaign to become the sheriff of Aspen to negotiations with Alex Cox over a proposed film script for Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas. (Thompson vetoes the whole thing because he's completely ticked off by the suggestion that cartoon images be included in the film--he hates cartoons with a vehemence that is quite funny.) The "behind the scenes" footage shot with Johnny Depp and Benicio during the film's actual making are also where Breakfast finds itself most authoritative and valuable.
In many ways the film assumes a degree of familiarity with Thompson's exploits and body of work. For instance, a famous self-portrait photograph of a black-eyed Thompson briefly appears. Yet the film's coverage of the landmark Hell's Angels book exists in only one vague sentence delivered by Thompson that goes something like: "I took this picture myself after getting stomped by the Hell's Angels, when I wrote my first book."
Considering the volumes of biographical works that already exist about this man, it's not really this film's responsibility to provide a thorough synopsis. It functions as a fragmentary supplement, coloring in his later and less-documented years. It's not particularly illuminating other than showing us firsthand how he talks and how messy his kitchen is. But if you haven't done your Hunter S. homework, don't bother. Breakfast is not going to explain Thompson to you, or even offer much in the way of opinions. But, if anything, it might intrigue you.