For No Good Reason ***Dir: Charlie Paul. With: Ralph Steadman, Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson. 89 mins. Cert: NC
Charlie Paul’s crazy-busy profile of artist and illustrator Ralph Steadman inevitably foregrounds the wild rides its subject enjoyed alongside Hunter S. Thompson; it makes a sound case for Steadman’s eruptive splurges (“a bit like being sick”) as a correlative to the element of chance inherent in Thompson’s writing. Elsewhere, Paul struggles to contain Steadman’s profligate energies in ninety minutes, and the waning presence of Johnny Depp, loitering between poor career choices to pull on a cigarillo and point at pictures, can’t give it shape. It’s at its strongest away from all things gonzo, where it can curate a space for Steadman to discuss his influences and swelling political discontent; it gets genuinely fascinating whenever Paul stops to watch him abusing Polaroids and other canvasses in his ink-splattered studio. “There’s an event going on in there,” says Ralph, stripping the toplayer off one print to unleash its innards. There’s one in here somewhere, too.
For No Good Reason opens in selected cinemas from today.