Much like a fine bottle of wine, you can't rush a good documentary because quite often to tell an epic story right, you need to let it breathe. "For No Good Reason" is a leisurely but comprehensive look at the life and career of artist Ralph Steadman and those iconic years that he spent with the godfather of Gonzo journalism himself, Hunter S Thompson.
With Johnny Depp as our guide, he pays a call on his friend and hero Ralph Steadman and we take off on a high-spirited, raging and kaleidoscopic journey discovering the life and works of one of the most distinctive radical artists of the last 50 years including the importance of his work with the iconic Hunter S Thompson.
To be clear, "For No Good Reason follows" the standard mold of a bio pic as we track the life and career of Ralph Steadman, but it is done in such a loose, free and easy conversational style that it is an engaging thing to simple take part in.
Director Charlie Paul follows his story in a very compelling way as Steadman's visual style and his art is co-opted into his story, while Paul allows Depp and Steadman room to breathe as they are simply talking about the old days. Depp lets Steadman tell stories, and while the film obviously hinges on those stories there is something to be said for simply staying out of the way and letting the subject do all of the work. These stories, especially the ones about Hunter S Thompson are simply cinematic enough thanks to the plethora of animated and archival footage that gets inserted in, the eye popping visuals get to do the bulk of the work while Paul skillfully steers the story where ever he needs it to go. Having it be much more free flowing rather than hammering it in to more of a rigid structure helped the movie not only be entertaining but give us some unedited insight into the man's artistic process
Granted "For No Good Reason" is a little more fun if you like Ralph Steadman as an artist, but ultimately the film plays out like a really darn good conversation at a bar between two good friends and to be honest, there isn't a damn thing wrong with that.
3 out of 5 stars.
"For No Good Reason" opens tomorrow at the Canada Square Theatres here in downtown Toronto and at the International Village in Vancouver, check it out while you can.