Factotum (2005)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  29 April 2005 (Norway)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 11,772 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 80 user | 116 critic | 25 from Metacritic.com

This drama centers on Hank Chinaski, the fictional alter-ego of "Factotum" author Charles Bukowski, who wanders around Los Angeles, CA trying to live off jobs which don't interfere with his primary interest, which is writing. Along the way, he fends off the distractions offered by women, drinking and gambling.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Didier Flamand ...
Tony Endicott (as Tom Lyons)
Dean Brewington ...
Old Black Man
James Cada ...
Bald Man
James Michael Detmar ...
Kurt Schweickhardt ...
Ice Plant Supervisor
Dee Noah ...
Hank's Mother
James Noah ...
Hank's Father
Michael Egan ...
Taxi Office Clerk


Self-declared aspiring writer Hank Chinaski has neither qualifications, ambition nor ethics. Any dead-end job he lands is soon lost through laziness or mischief. His relationship with fellow deadbeat Jan gets strained to crisis through her insecurity, so he even gives up betting on horses which brought in easy money. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

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| | | |


Release Date:

29 April 2005 (Norway)  »

Also Known As:

Factotum: A Man Who Performs Many Jobs  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£37,100 (UK) (18 November 2005)


$808,221 (USA) (8 December 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke, who played brothers in Francis Ford Coppola's cult film Rumble Fish (1983), have both played the role of Henry Chinaski (Rourke played in Barfly (1987)). See more »


In the scene where Lili Taylor's character changes out of her high heel shoes the reflection of the dolly tracks is visible in the polished stone of the building. See more »


[first lines]
Ice Plant Supervisor: Chinaski! Hey! Chinaski, come on out here! You got a drivers license, don't you?
Henry Chinaski: Yeah.
Ice Plant Supervisor: I got a driver out sick today. We got some rush orders we need to get out right away. I need you to make these deliveries.
See more »


Referenced in Hand of Glory (2012) See more »


Where Breathing Starts
Music by Tord Gustavsen
Performed by Tord Gustavsen Trio
By courtesy of Tord Gustavsen/ECM
Sound Recording Copyright ECM Records 2003
See more »

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User Reviews

A master class in getting fired!
22 December 2005 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

The leading figure in Factotum (which means a jack of all trades) is Henry Chinaski. The movie, written and directed by Bent Hamer, a Norwegian, is based on the novel of the same name by Charles Bukowski, who died in 1994. Like Chinaski, Bukowski was a drunk, indulged in casual sex, and liked to gamble; and most of Bukowski's books, including Factotum, are based on his own experiences in and out of blue collar worker. Also, like his creator, Chinaski is a writer, albeit unpublished as yet. Nevertheless, it is probably best NOT to approach this film as a partial biography of Bukowski, but simply as a fictional movie based on his writings.

Chinaski, played by Matt Dillon, is the ultimate, irresponsible goof-off, living just above the level of skid row, who gets work when he needs cash for booze etc, but invariably gets fired within days or weeks. Told not to smoke in a particular workplace, he lights up once the boss is out of the way; asked to make a delivery, he drives the van away while it's still connected to an electric plug, leaves the van door open and drifts into a bar. Even outside work, he behaves perversely - notably leaving ointment on his private parts overnight, when he's been told that one hour is the absolute limit! And Chinaski, though initially appearing mildly passive, is not averse to violence, even to women.

The man's sole redeeming features are his belief in himself as a writer, and his persistence in writing and submitting his work. (His main redeeming feature should be his actual talent for writing, but the film gives us little evidence of this, except for a few Bukowski quotes, which in any case are mainly about his belief in himself.) .

Dillon fits this role like a glove. By turns, he sleepwalks, staggers and rampages through the movie - that is, when Chinaski isn't drinking in bars or sleeping it off with or without a woman. And, because this is fiction rather than biography, Dillon can mitigate his deplorable behaviour and slovenly dress simply with his good looks and dark eyes. One suspects that in real life Bukowski was far less likable than his cinematic alter ego.

Chinaski's main squeeze for most of the movie, bravely and quite unglamorously portrayed by Lili Taylor, is Jan who shares her lover's fondness for alcohol and a slacker life. In one sequence, when he has split from Jan, Chinaski encounters a glossier woman, Laura (Marisa Tomei), who introduces him to a more bourgeois world; but this doesn't last long, and he soon reverts to his usual round of drink and casual jobs. (Incidentally, I found the sound quality in the whole Marisa Tomei sequence quite poor, and missed much of the dialogue.)

I'm not too sure what anybody uninterested in Bukowski (or Matt Dillon) will make of this movie; but if you're looking for something in English other than blockbusters, rom-coms, costume dramas etc - this is it. And, whatever your view of the movie, if you haven't already done so, read some Bukowski - you'll love it!

64 of 78 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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