This drama centers on Hank Chinaski, the fictional alter-ego of "Factotum" author Charles Bukowski, who wanders around Los Angeles, CA trying to live off jobs which don't interfere with his primary interest, which is writing. Along the way, he fends off the distractions offered by women, drinking and gambling.
A simple self-destructive drifter and tough small-time boxer with a brain injury that could kill him meets and falls for a cute beach carnival owner, Ruby, but also befriends a sleazy friendly criminal, Wesley, who's planing a big score.
Henry Chinaski never cared for the American dream, the thought of needing to become 'something' and fit into the system disgusts him. He believes that life is free and yours to live like you see fit, and if that in some cases involves copious amounts of whiskey then so be it. Henry spends his days drinking and listening to the radio, and he spends his nights drinking and fighting against Eddy who he thinks personifies shallowness and shameless self promoting. Sometimes in the middle of this he finds the time to jot down a few lines of poetry or a short story. After fighting Eddy and winning for a change Henry is thrown out of his regular bar where Eddy is a bartender. This leads him to seek another watering hole where he happens to find Wanda who is a barfly, in her own words "if another man came along with a fifth of whiskey, I'd go with him". Henry is not fazed by this thou and moves in with her. Of course Wanda immediately goes off and sleeps with Eddy, but after some clothes ...Written by
Erik Wallen <email@example.com>
Charles Bukowski wanted Sean Penn to star as protagonist Henry Chinaski, but Penn insisted that Dennis Hopper direct the film. Later, Hopper directed Penn in Colors (1988) without Hopper acting in it; then Penn would around three years later direct Hopper in The Indian Runner (1991) which Penn doesn't act in. Bukowski had written the Barfly (1987) screenplay for Barbet Schroeder, who had filmed him for French TV years before, and would not surrender it to Hopper, whom he despised as a gold-chain wearing Hollywood phony. Bukowski and Penn became friends for the rest of his life. See more »
When Henry gets out of bed, Tully has terrible bedhead as their conversation starts. When it cuts back to her a second later, her hair has been neatly brushed. See more »
Some guys really know how to get the women.
Now, you don't know how?
Hey, I can get one for ten minutes. That's my limit.
See more »
Perhaps Mickey Rourkes' final great performance, BARFLY sees him as prolific writer/poet Henry Chinaski who rejects conformity in every day society and believes it to be frustratingly fake. As a result, he is a drunk, and prefers to hang out with 'all his friends' in a regular bar by getting into fights whilst the crowd pays the winner (no guesses as to what he spends his money on) until he meets a 'strange girl' at a bar- Wanda (Faye Dunway). The two instantly click- both are intelligent indivuals who reject over regularity in every day passive conversation (Dunaway- 'I hate people, don't you? Rourke- 'I don't mind them, but I seem to feel better when they're not around'). The two form an instant freindship/relationship because of one major primary function that can keep them together- drink. A researcher who picks up talented writers like Henry enters the frame and falls for him due to his prolific writing and offers him a place in 'the good life' with her- but Henry rejects this when she tells him he will 'grow into it' (Rourke- growing is for plants- I hate roots).
BARFLY manages to do something profound that so many films fail to do- in showing us that conformity isn't suited to intelligent, open minded creative individuals like Henry. Rourke excels himself in this role, it's as good a performance but a completely different one from his role in ANGEL HEART (starring in 3 great films, including RUMBLE FISH, really doesn't do him justice- he was the best of his generation in the 80's). He plays Henry not unlike how Jeff Bridges plays Jeffrey 'The Dude' Lebowski in THE BIG LEBOWSKI (I'd be very surprised if the Coens didn't take inspiration from this film, and fans of that particular film should also check this out) as some one who you would consider to be an every day loser but is probably a darn sight more smarter than you believe them to be (as well as having a self serving purpose for the life they have chosen to live). Faye Dunaway, as usual, is uniformly excellent as Henrys lover/drinking partner, managing to convey an aura of sassiness and casual sophistication, and who has also chosen to take this particular path in life for a reason- the same as Henry's. The chemistry between these two leads is astounding, and the script is pitch perfect with dozens of memorable lines (Dunway- 'Whatever happens, don't expect me to fall in love with you', Rourke- 'That's ok, nobody has ever fallen in love with me anyway'). To me at least, Rourke's performance as Henry is the single most likeable character created in any film, and it stays with you long after the film is over. Touching, funny and profound- a minor masterpiece, a 'nice' film, I RECOMMEND IT!
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