118 min. minutes | Rated R
Alex Gibney's documentary tries, and largely succeeds, to chart the curve of Hunter S. Thompson's life and the impact of his words. Gonzo's core is the interviews with the usual suspects: Thompson's wives, his son, his editors, and Ralph Steadman. But we also hear from Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, a still-pissed Hell's Angel, Jimmy Buffett, Pat Buchanan, and Tom Wolfe, the last of whom strikingly compares Thompson to Mark Twain. (Indeed, the only major player in Thompson's life who seems absent is arch-villain Richard Nixon, which I suppose can be forgiven.) Thompson's pal Johnny Depp also shows up, reading from Thompson's work and bringing Thompson's deft lyricism and righteous spirit to the film, but what's perhaps most appreciated and unexpected is the candor with which Gibney treats his respected subject: Thompson was a genius, yes, and he changed journalism and politics for the better, yet Gibney doesn't shy away from showing that Thompson could also be an asshole, and that he let his own myth get the better of him. From the horror of the '68 Chicago riots to the euphoric shooting of Thompson's ashes out of a colossal Gonzo fist, Gibney scrapes through Thompson's writing, history, and friends to assemble a thorough and affecting portrait of a man who, at one crucial point in time, was one of the best writers America had, not to mention a writer that only America could have produced.
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