A gentle and usually mellow young man, who sometimes knows things before they happen and gets vibes of premonition, tell us his story: how he met Michelle in Iowa in 1971, how he got the name Fuckhead, how she introduced him to heroin and their falling in love, his thieving, his hospital work and their time in Chicago when she gets pregnant, detox, going to Phoenix to live, AA meetings and a dance, working at a care center where he learns to touch the residents, and modifying his daily schedule so that he passes a neighboring Mennonite household at the right time to hear the wife sing Gospel songs in the shower. Slowly, very slowly, FH lets his gifts emerge. Written by
Brilliantly pieced together from assorted short stories by Denis Johnson, director Alison Maclean brings depth, humour, compassion, and darkness to the screen adaption. Heroin addict FH (ryhmes with: Duck Bed) goes through a strange odyssey of loss and understanding his compassion. Brilliantly (and this is not an overstatement) acted by Billy Crudup (who should have been given an Oscar nod for his performance), he brings a complexity to his character that is missing from most actors around. Minor details are amazingly evident in his portrayel of FH, as the lovelorn, selfish, and sensitive junkie. Samantha Morton is outstanding as Michelle (FH's girlfriend), giving an intense and moody performance (which the viewer mourns the loss of half way through). The movie mixes moments of surreal madness, as the viewer is taken along existential scenes that could be described as hallucinogenic and funny. The scene where a gentleman (played by book author Denis Johnson) comes into a hospital with a hunting knife stuck in his eye is uncomfortably hillarious. Drugged up hospital attendant Georgie (Jack Black in a standout performance) proceeds to pop pills as he attempts to pull the knife out. But this is just one of the many great cameos that fills the screen. Denis Leary (looking a lot like Dennis Hopper in "Easy Rider", Holly Hunter (playing a neurotic widow with a limp), and Dennis Hopper (looking amazingly like Dennis Hopper too) give great performances as well. Alison Maclean directs the film with great use of color and cinematography, but never crowding the actor's performance. Included as well, is a great music theme by Joe Henry, that incorporates the blending of psychedlic guitar and wurlitzer electric piano work. The rest of the soundtrack is great as well, with music by Wilco, Joe Tex, Neil Young, and Booker T & The MG's. This film was one of my favourite films of the year, and unfortunately didn't get as much notice as it deserved. Highly recommended!
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