Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Imaginative and authentic, this film about drug addiction in the ‘70s is the real deal

7.7

Movie

United States of America
English
Crime, Drama
1989
GUS VAN SANT
Beah Richards, Eric Hull, George Catalano
98 min

TLDR

I’m just so relieved it’s nothing like the similarly premised Requiem for a Dream.

What it's about

In 1971 in Oregon, four young drug addicts chase their high by robbing pharmacies in the area, all while looking out for one another.

The take

You can tell Drugstore Cowboy was written by someone who has been through drug abuse and incarceration himself. This is the kind of film that has to be lived, not researched. It’s realistic, sure, and it gets at the interiority of a drug user with ease. But there is no judgment to be found here, no preachy criticism or misguided glorification of a hardened lifestyle. Bob (Matt Dillon) and his wife Dianne (Kelly Lynch) have created a nomadic, transient life that allows them to live on drugstore lootings one district at a time, while looking out for each other and the other couple they live with, Rick (James LeGros) and Nadine (Heather Graham). They chose this outlaw life, and because of the agency the film affords them, there is joy to be found despite their difficulties. It’s an authentic story, elevated by imaginative editing, a jazzy, heart-thumping score, and believable performances by a quartet of capable actors.

What stands out

There’s something about Matt Dillon’s narration of the whole thing, with his cool, flat voice and straightforward musings, that give the film a poignant and hopeful feel to it. Some actors might have overdramatized the words or put on an inauthentic accent, might have sounded overly jaded or perked up. But Dillon struck the right tone, and I do believe the film might have been very different if he hadn’t.

Comments

Add a comment

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

Falling in Love Like in Movies (2023)

A contemplative Indonesian romance film that rewrites and re-examines the genre’s conventions

8.4

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

A star-studded and riveting legal drama with a blockbuster feel.

8.1

Forgotten Love (2023)

The stunning third take of the classic Polish pre-war melodrama

7.7

The Guilty (2018)

A minimalist, razor-sharp thriller that will have you gasping for air.

9.0

Bray Wyatt: Becoming Immortal (2024)

WWE’s best effort to pay tribute to Windham “Bray Wyatt” Rotunda

8.5

The Peasants (2023)

DK Welchman returns to her roots in this oil-painted adaptation of the haunting Young Poland folk saga

7.6

River (2023)

A delightful and ultimately life-affirming Japanese time loop comedy clearly made with love

8.8

System Crasher (2019)

A tale of trauma and one of the most talked about movies on Netflix in 2020.

9.0

Leave the World Behind (2023)

Shyamalan meets Black Mirror in this hugely entertaining, visually inventive apocalyptic thriller with a killer ending

8.2

Scoop (2024)

A gripping and illuminating dramatization of a landmark interview from the creator of The Crown

7.4

Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2024 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.