Gus Van Sant explores resilience through pitch-black humor

Based on a true story, this sweet-and-sour biopic on Jon Callahan, an alcoholic quadriplegic turned cartoonist, falls perfectly into the celebrated director Gus Van Sant’s (My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting) repertoire of normdefying movies.

Set in his native Portland, Van Sant doesn’t so much adapt Callahan’s unrefined autobi- ography as confront the pitfalls of his rehabilitation, inducing gut-busting laughs as he skims through scenes of Callahan’s life in a maze of flashbacks. An unapologetic and almost unrecognizably ginger Joaquin Phoenix convincingly portrays Callahan’s fortitude despite his condition: a 1972 car crash severed his spine, leading to his knack for dark and satirical drawings as a coping mechanism. Helping Callahan readjust his life is the affluent Donnie (Jonah Hill), who wreaks comedic havoc through Hill’s impeccable improv skills. Where you might expect a cliché-ridden comedy, you’ll be met with an offbeat, almost offensive, but touching, gallery of anecdotes.

Starts Aug 17, Filmcasino. 5., Margaretenstraße 78,

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