Don’t Worry: Gus Van Sant’s latest weaves an animated tale

Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot | Luna | til July 18 | ★ ★ ★

Gus Van Sant’s latest film seems like a gambit on his part, to attempt something new in a career peppered with cult favourites (My Own Private Idaho) and mainstream smash hits (Good Will Hunting, Milk).

Assembling a cast of acting dynamos and indie music favourites, Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot has all of the elements – including the unnecessarily long title – for another critical favourite.

Don’t Worry follows John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix), based on the memoir of the wheelchair-bound cartoonist, attempting to deal with his alcoholism at a pivotal juncture in his life. Van Sant weaves threads of Callahan’s life together, from his initial accident, to his physical recovery and visits to Alcoholics Anonymous to create a tapestry of the character’s life.

I certainly wouldn’t call the tapestry ugly. The film is full of moments of beauty, heartbreak, Van Sant’s usual sense of humour and a well-knit ensemble cast – but the finishes piece doesn’t look quite right.

The jumps in time seem almost arbitrary at moments, a creative choice that ends up making the film a little harder to consume rather than more interesting to watch – a great leap from Van Sant’s earlier narrative favourites.

Despite the convoluted storytelling, the strength and charm of the casting (including alt-music queens Beth Ditto and Carrie Brownstein) and the heart of Callahan’s real-life story still make for an enjoyable viewing.

Revelation Film Festival is running until Wednesday 18th July. Head to revelationfilmfest.org for more information.

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