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3.5 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Henry Chinaski (Dillon) considers himself a writer, and on occasion writes. Mostly he quests for the booze and women that sidetrack and seduce, rather than inspire greatness. When he falls for Jan (Taylor), the soulful connection fails to save either from their self-destructive ways, and the relationship totters between earnest connection and reflective loathing. With exceptional performances that capture the intoxicated journey though life and art, Factotum is the story of a man living on the edge; a writer who risks everything, tries anything, and finds poetry in life


Matt Dillon lumbers through Factotum like a side of beef just starting to rot, lifting his chin in quiet, semi-comic reflections on the domestic squalor of a booze-ridden life. His slow, thick performance--as if he had something more viscous than blood running through his veins--has a weary gravitas that veers from wry resignation to bursts of violence that he regrets even as he's committing them. As Henry Chinaski (an alter ego of author Charles Bukowski), Dillon idly skips from job to job, seeking one that will allow him to continue his two pursuits: Writing and drinking. He gets enmeshed with one woman (Lili Taylor, I Shot Andy Warhol) and dallies with another (Marisa Tomei, In the Bedroom), but his only true love is the bottle. Despite this bleak storyline, Factotum proceeds with an almost lighthearted pace, each spare scene delivered with a dry, almost wistful tone of regret and flashes of gallows humor. Director Bent Hamer (Kitchen Stories) is from Norway and has a similar aesthetic to Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki (The Man Without a Past); sly slices-of-life that deliver bad news with a gentle, forgiving touch. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Making-of documentary
  • Soundtrack promotion
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, Didier Flamand, Fisher Stevens
  • Directors: Bent Hamer
  • Writers: Bent Hamer, Jim Stark, Charles Bukowski
  • Producers: Bent Hamer, Christine K. Walker, Jim Stark, Karl Baumgartner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Ifc
  • DVD Release Date: December 26, 2006
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ICL3NI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,901 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Factotum" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Matt Dillon is Henry Chinaski, the alter-ego of Charles Bukowski. This is a movie about a man who finds solace in a bottle and outlet in the written word. He struggles to be a writer, knowing that his perceptions on society are unique and valuable, but at the same time believing everything to be pointless.

He can't hold a job down because he's a drunk, but he believes he can't hold a job down because every job is shackling his spirit. He can't keep a relationship because he's not able to feel anything beyond his own mind, and that's such a fountain of strong emotion that he has to dampen it with booze.

This is not a happy movie. This is a movie about despair and the agony of addiction. There's no message of recovery or vindication or even escape as in Leaving Las Vegas - the simple message is that for some people life is just too much to handle. For that message it's a true story, unadulterated by the can-do propaganda of self-help America. This is the dark side of civilization, the story of one of those left behind.

Matt Dillon becomes Chinaski and he delivers a powerful performance, at times violent, angry, and hopeless, while at other times driven and manic. He sums up his life with the line, "All I want to do is get my check and get drunk. It might not be noble, but it's my choice."

The movie ends with these thoughts, and it's from that world that Bukowski rose to give us a look at ourselves.

"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs. And maybe your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation. Isolation is the gift.
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Factotum is based upon the 1975 novel by the American writer Charles Bukowski (1920 - 1994). The movie was shot in Minnesota in 2004 and premiered at several independent film festivals before its commercial release. The best-known earlier movie based upon Bukowski's work was Barfly (1987) which stared Mickey Rourke.

I looked forward to seeing Factotum for a long time, and I wasn't disappointed. The major character is Henry Chinaski, a character who figures in many Bukowski novels and stories and who is based loosly on Bukowski's own life. Matt Dillon gives a stunning performance of Chinaski, as does Lili Taylor, as Chinaski's on-again off-again girlfriend Jan.

Although the movie was shot in Minnesota, the scene of the movie is the poorer sections of Los Angeles during the years of WW II. Chinaski, a loner, outsider and drifter rejected for military service, is fired from one menial job after another as he works toward becoming a writer. Chinaski drinks heavily, gambles at the racetrack, fights, and moves from woman to woman. The low life of the movie is convincingly portrayed; yet Chinaski perseveres and ultimately succeeds in his goal of becoming a writer.

The movie differs from the novel in that the movie is set entirely in Los Angeles. In Bukowski's novel, Chinaski wanders back and forth around the United States. Thus, the novel begins in New Orleans, as Chinaski heads West to Los Angeles, and then backtracks through New York City, Philadelphia, and St. Louis before drifting back to Los Angeles. The book is thus substantially more episodic and less focused that the film adaptation. In addition, the film portrays Chinaski somewhat more sympathetically than does Bukowski's own text.
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So many people said after this year's Academy Awards that Matt Dillon should have won an Oscar as best supporting actor for his performance in "Crash." Perhaps so, but he deserves an Oscar even more as best actor for "Factotum," without a doubt. It is an offbeat movie that is not for the kids, but the camera captures the best acting that Dillon has ever done. Even with a beard and somewhat of a paunch, he radiates star power more so than in his other films.

First and foremost, IFC Films should be pushing for his nomination. The reviews are terrific, by and large; and it should be opened nationwide, not just in art house theaters. This is a "sleeper" gem of a film. Along with an Oscar nod for Dillon might come one for Lili Taylor because she is terrific too. Clearly, "Factotum" is an Indie film that has come out of nowhere, ground zero in fact, and might be marked for "stardom" if IFC puts some "muscle" behind the film in terms of marketing and promoting it.

In turn, its success might propel lots of independent filmmakers to "believe" that they too might "reach for the stars" and actually catch the brass ring. Dillon is a real talent, and so is Taylor. Marisa Tomei has a small but meaty part, and she handles it with aplomb as she always does. For those of us who fell in love with her years ago, when she won an Oscar as best supporting actress in "My Cousin Vinny," she shines in this movie too.

Even though Dillon's character, "Henry Chinaski," is an alcoholic and a womanizer who seems to fail miserably at all of his jobs, the one thread that keeps him alive and moving forward is his writing, which is ultimately his redemption--as it was for writer Charles Bukowski, on whose book the film was based. The only minor criticism of the movie might be that it needs some music in various scenes, and the end credits need to be redone to achieve greater clarity because they are impossible to read in a theater.
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