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Drugstore Cowboy

R

Matt Dillon and his not-so-merry band of junkies rob pharmacies and cheat death.

Starring:
Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch
Runtime:
1 hour, 41 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
I am always surprised at how many people have not heard of this film. Although released back in 1989, this is definitely one of Van Sant's best films. This flick takes you into the day to day routine of Bob (played by Matt Dillon) and his melancholic and nomadic band of junkies who roam around the Pacific Northwest raiding pharmacies and hospital drug cabinets in search of Valium, Dilaudid and other narcotic goodies to pop, shoot and snort.
The mood of this film is generally very dysphoric however some comic relief is added throughout in the dialogue and 'trippy' visual imagery. Some of the pranks they pull on the detective they are eluding are also pretty humorous.
The movie definitely captures the 70's era well with its acting, dialogue and wardrobe. Superb acting by Dillon as the intimacy phobic, restless and highly superstitious ringleader, Kelly Lynch as his less than satisfied girlfriend, James LeGros as simpleminded Rick, and Heather Graham as the young ditzy neophyte who literally goes overboard trying hard fit into this group of merry prankster junkies.
This movie is a creative little exploration into the day to day routine and psyche of the junkie, so if you can't handle the portrayal of this reality, then this is another movie that isn't for you. Interestingly, William Burroughs plays a short role as a junkie priest, adding some penetrating social commentary towards the end.
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By A Customer on January 6, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I was fortunate to see this film in its limited original release. Over the years much of it stayed with me, and it has stood up to repeated viewings. Hard to say what had the most impact: To see Matt Dillon turn in one of the best acting performances of that year? To witness one of the first performances of an interesting, talented unknown named Heather Graham? Or maybe the inspired performance of William Burroughs in a key role near the end? All the performances in this movie ring true. Truly one of the major overlooked films of the last 20 years.
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Format: DVD
First off, let me say that Drugstore Cowboy is a great film, one of my favorites. This review is about the DVD release, not the film. The picture has a few flaws, dirt and noise in some scenes, lines in others... At times it can be distracting. Other times, it looks really nice. Having seen this film at least 6 or 8 times, I knew going in that I would really pay attention to the picture. Despite the problems (I'm starting to believe it's the source print of the film) the DVD is the best that the film has looked since it's theatrical release and I'm just glad that it's available. The sound is a 2.0 digital mix. Nothing great, but a good mix. Everything sounds clean and it has very good detail and level. The documentary is an interesting "making of" look at the film and is a nice extra. The commentary track features both Matt Dillon and Gus Van Sant and is fairly interesting. Overall, the DVD could be better (the bells and whistles of major studio releases overshadow smaller films like this one) but it is a nice release. If you love Drugstore Cowboy and are debating on picking this up on DVD, go ahead, you'll be pleased with it. Just don't expect perfection.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is Gus Van Sant's best movie to date, no question. Matt Dillon is our disillusioned hero and narrator, leading his crew on a non-stop journey round the hotels and chemists of the Midwest. The acting and script for Drugstore Cowboy are so tight, it's great. There are some true comedy scenes (a number involving the stowing of corpses, some cool police escapes and one classic where a stoned Bob (Dillon) tries to fend off his wife Diane's amorous advances) but Van Sant also creates a sense of yearning and sadness as we get toward the end of the story. And the music is divine too - especially the use of 'The Israelites'.
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Format: DVD
Before director Gus Van Sant decided to get all mushy on us with the likes of Finding Forrester, he made this suprisingly little-seen gem. The first time I saw it was not long after having seen Trainspotting, and I immediately understood where Trainspotting had found a great amount of its inspiration - like that film, Drugstore Cowboy is essentially a comedy. Black as they come, but a comedy none the less.
The story of a group of four junkies who raid drugstores in their search for drugs, this film takes a gritty, unflinching look at drugabuse and the hell people go through while using and after they quit. Shifting tones between deeply dramatic and darkly comical, Van Sant never judges his characters, but just allows them to speak for themselves - literally, as Matt Dillon's character narrates the movie. Dillon has never been better than here, and is supported by an excellent Kelly Lynch (where did she go in the meantime, anyway?) and a very young Heather Graham.
There are moments in this film you'll remember forever: when Dillon and Lynch get stuck in a motel hosting a sheriff's convention with a dead body on their hands, you don't know whether to laugh, cry or shiver at the thought. And who ever suspected that a song like "The Israelites" could be made to sound so haunting? In the framework of this movie, it does. Above all, this movie comes across as very honest and heartfelt, emotional without being corny, effective without being preachy.
DVD-edition features a fine transfer of the film - its occasional graininess is likely due to either the low budget it was shot on in the first place, or an artistic choice. I've never seen it any better than here, and the rough edges of it do seem to add to its content and mood. Commentary by Van Sant and Dillon starts out entertaining, but towards the end they seem to be searching for new things to say. Very good "making of"-featurette.
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