For my husband’s birthday we went to see Factotum, the film based on the novel by Charles Bukowski. I have very limited knowledge of Bukowski’s work. What I have read, I haven’t been much impressed with. The film made me want to give his work – at least this novel – more of a chance.
While I was watching the film, I really hated it, despite the fact that three of my favorite actors were in it and the acting was fabulous. What I had trouble stomaching was Dillon and Taylor’s total disregard for civility and the film’s glamorization it. What I mean to say is that there is nothing cool about waking up, vomiting, and reaching for another drink. I think films/books about alcoholics touch a nerve in many poets/artists who drink. One always walks away wondering: Am I this bad? Will I become this bad? And one is left with a sense of paranoia.
As time passes however, I find that I truly loved the film. I think Bukwoski had a wonderful, relentless attitute toward writing that is unbelievably inspiring. In the final scene, Henry (the writer) is sitting alone with a drink in a strip bar. He gives this wonderful monolugue about how if you are going to do "it" (it meaning writing, hopefully, not drinking!) you have to go all the way. He says something to the effect that you may lose lovers, wives, your family, all your money, and if you go on long enough, you will lose your mind. But, once you get there, nothing could be better. I think these are the words of a true writer. Someone who writes not for the small doses of money or popularity it brings, but because they have no choice. Ironically, Bukoski wasn’t THAT good of a writer. Rather, he was a fastitous self-promoter. But, he had the most important thing an artist can have: blind faith.