After Mickey Rourke in 'Barfly', who would attempt to revisit Henry Chinaski, Bukowski's legendary alter ego? The answer is Matt Dillon, in Bent Hamer's adaptation of 'Factotum'. And the result is surprisingly good, if Bukowski's episodic skid row tale of drinking, writing and getting fired from odd jobs is your thing.
The film stays close to the novel, with voice-over narration as well as songs based on Bukowski poems (by Dadafon singer Kristin Asbjørnsen). It works best as an offbeat comedy, with great performances by Dillon and Lili Taylor, though stylizing the down-and-outness away from too much sleazy grittiness and avoiding the overly painful. That is, except for its end statement:
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. All the others are a test of your endurance. Of how much you really want to do it. And you'll do it, despite rejection in the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods. And the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.
Btw, interesting to see how so many American underbelly-exposing Bukowski adaptations are done by non-Americans: