Based on the life of successful poet Charles Bukowski and his exploits in Hollywood during the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
“Barfly” is a 1987 film directed by Barbet Schroeder and written by Charles Bukowski, based on his own experiences as a heavy-drinking writer. The movie stars Mickey Rourke as Henry Chinaski, a semi-autobiographical character representing Bukowski himself, and Faye Dunaway as Wanda Wilcox, a love interest who shares his passion for alcohol.
The film revolves around the gritty and raw life of Henry Chinaski, an alcoholic writer who spends most of his time in bars, engaging in drinking contests and brawls. He is a regular at various seedy establishments, interacting with a range of eccentric characters, including other alcoholics, barflies, and prostitutes. The narrative captures the squalor and despair of Chinaski’s existence, as he struggles to find inspiration and purpose in his life.
Mickey Rourke delivers a powerful performance as the tortured writer, effectively portraying Chinaski’s alcohol-fueled highs and lows. Rourke brings an authentic and gritty quality to the character, embodying Bukowski’s world-weary spirit. Faye Dunaway also delivers a strong performance as Wanda, the complex and damaged woman who becomes Chinaski’s love interest. The chemistry between Rourke and Dunaway is palpable, and their interactions provide some of the film’s most compelling moments.
“Barfly” is a character-driven film that delves deep into the depths of alcoholism and the desperation of those trapped in a cycle of self-destruction. It portrays the allure and destructive nature of the bar culture, where individuals seek solace and escape from their problems but ultimately find themselves trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of addiction and despair.
The film’s direction by Barbet Schroeder effectively captures the grimy atmosphere of the bars and the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. The gritty cinematography and production design contribute to the overall authenticity and realism of the film’s portrayal of Chinaski’s world.
“Barfly” received mixed reviews upon its release but has since gained a cult following for its raw and unflinching portrayal of Bukowski’s life and the world of alcoholism. The film offers a compelling exploration of the self-destructive nature of addiction and the struggle for artistic expression. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to its dark subject matter and explicit content, but for those interested in character-driven dramas with a dose of gritty realism, “Barfly” remains a notable film worth watching.