Drugstore Cowboy was a Gus Van Sant movie about a group of addicts that rob drug stores and hospitals to support their habit. It’s based upon a book of the same name. Bob (Matt Dillon) is the leader of the crew along with his wife Dianne (Kelly Lynch), their friend Rick (James LeGros), and his new girlfriend Nadine (Heather Graham) who is just being introduced to their lives. It’s a melancholy story about addiction and crime. As Bob says in the introduction they were all playing a game they couldn’t win.
What first draws you in are the capers, the cops and eccentricities of Bob. The second scene for example is a drug store robbery where Nadine pretends to go into a spasm while Bob jumps over the counter and grabs everything he can find. Then there are Bob’s superstitions. One time Nadine talks about getting a puppy for instance and Bob and Dianne insist that’s such a bad omen that they can’t rob for a month. Their crimes also attract the attention of Portland Detective Gentry (James Remar) who constantly tries to bust the group. This provides drama, tension, and some comedy.
Added bonus William S. Burroughs as Tom the Priest makes a special appearance giving Bob advice about life, drugs and society.
The basis of the story however is the groups never ending desire for drugs. It’s their addiction that draws them together and leads to their problems as well.
Matt Dillon as the lead really carries the movie. Van Sant does a good job with the imagery and soundtrack as well. It all creates a rather unique movie.