Irish dramatist Brendan Behan famously described himself as 'œa drinker with a writing problem,' said Kyle Smith in the New York Post. In the aptly seedy and amusing adaptation of Charles Bukowski's 1975 novel, Factotum, the author's alter ego Henry Chinaski wrestles with similar addictions. There's not much of a plot, but it hardly matters when every scene is rich with details of 'œinspired absurdity.' Chinaski is 'œan ornery loser, a jerk of all trades who gets fired from a succession of grim jobs.' He delivers ice, drives a cab, works in a pickle factory, and picks up boozy broads. The film is a delicate blend of three sensibilities that don't naturally coalesce, said Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. It nimbly mingles the 'œbleak world of the despairing poet and novelist with the droll point of view of Norwegian director Bent Hamer and the distinctly American independent acting' of stars Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor. Sounds like an unworkable mix, but the film is surprisingly satisfying and 'œtrue to Bukowski and itself.' Dillon's acting is as beautifully understated as the film, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. 'œIt's easy to go big with Bukowski,' as Mickey Rourke did playing Chinaski in the 1987 Barfly. But Dillon's more subdued performance carries greater emotional weight. His 'œhypnotically slowed gestures' give him the mien of a man 'œsitting at the bottom of a pool and thinking about drowning.' Chinaski doesn't drown; but he does 'œwallow magnificently.'
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