For No Good Reason

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When a documentary feels the urge to shout about its celebrity cast with a lengthy, elaborate opening credits sequence, could it be making up for perceived shortcomings elsewhere? Perhaps the filmmakers behind this bio-doc don’t feel that enough people will know or care about illustrator Ralph Steadman, because they make sure we know who his celebrity friends are right from the off, notably deceased gonzo icon Hunter S Thompson and, inevitably, Thompson worshipper Johnny Depp.

Indeed, Depp appears in the very first frames, arriving at Steadman’s house to interview the artist, then cooing appreciatively as Steadman flicks some ink on a blank sheet of paper before transforming it into one of his trademark dynamic, surrealist and satirical drawings. And this vague sense of uncertainty – this urge to cast the net as wide as humanly possible – echoes infuriatingly throughout the film.

It’s there in the music choices, as the filmmakers eschew contemporary sounds for their ’60s and ’70s sequences, preferring instead the most lifeless modern indie sludge. It’s there in the tedious reiteration of key arguments – Thompson’s prose wouldn’t have been anything without Steadman’s drawings, y’know! – and in the constant return of Depp to centre stage. It’s a shame, because there’s a good, solid documentary to be made about this fascinating, enormously talented, slightly self-congratulatory little man and his unmistakeable ouevre.

Release details

Duration: 89 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Charlie Paul
LiveReviews|6
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Hamilton h

I watched this at the London international Animation Festival and I along with the entire audience were spellbound!

Hamilton h

I watched this at the London international Animation Festival and I along with the entire audience were spellbound!

Sam

Saw this on Saturday at LFF and agree entirely with the reviewer's comments on the soundtrack. Crystal Castles during the 'I, Leonardo' sequence was a particular low-point. However, I did manage to enjoy the rest of the film despite this. Depp was funny, Steadman was characterful, and the archive footage was fascinating. The animation was a nice touch too!

milton

I sneaked into the press screening for this last week and I am so glad that I did. It is the most amazing visually impressive documentary that I have ever seen. Better than the Kid Stays in the Picture. Better than Man On Wire. The story of Ralph's life is fantastic and it all happens in the most interesting period of history for me (1960's and 70's). The music and overall quality is up there with a movie (a lot of it was shot on film apparently). This really is that rare thing-a documentary worth seeing in the cinema!

milton

I sneaked into the press screening for this last week and I am so glad that I did. It is the most amazing visually impressive documentary that I have ever seen. Better than the Kid Stays in the Picture. Better than Man On Wire. The story of Ralph's life is fantastic and it all happens in the most interesting period of history for me (1960's and 70's). The music and overall quality is up there with a movie (a lot of it was shot on film apparently). This really is that rare thing-a documentary worth seeing in the cinema!