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Starring: Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, Fisher Stevens
Director: Bent Hamer
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes)
Year Made: 2005








Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 1 hr 34 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Comstar Entertainment




Henry Chinaski (Dillon) considers himself as a writer, and on occasion writes. Mostly he quests for booze and women that sidetrack and seduce, rather than inspire greatness. When he falls for Jan (Taylor), the soulful connection fails to save either from their self-destructive ways, and the relationship totters between earnest connection and reflective loathing. With the exceptional performances that capture the intoxicated journey through life and art, Factotum is the story of a man living on the edge; a writer who risks everything, tries anything, and finds poetry in life's pleasure and pain.


Depending on which side of sanity you are on, Factotum can turn you away from alcohol for some time, or it will cause you to quit your job and head for the nearest bar. A factotum is an old Latin term for a person with many activities and responsibilities. In modern society, it means a slacker and an odd-jobs person. Factotum the story was written in 1975 by the late Charles Bukowski, an American author who looked like Jack Nicholson and wrote like Sugar Ray Leonard. Bukowski, you see, was one alcoholic gritty barfly stumbling around LA while writing stories and poems. He uses the semi-biographical character, Henry Chinaski, as a character to describe the hang-overs, whores and horse-racing that Bukowski went through himself.

Bukowski is admired for his honest and painful portrayal of the hung-over life, and this movie is an attempt to translate that language from book to film. Factotum combines story elements from Factotum the movie as well as some of Bukowski’s other writings with chic names like “The days run away like wild horses over the hills”, “What matters most is how you walk through the fire” and “The Captain is out to lunch and the sailors have taken over the ship”. Yes, some fans find Bukowski’s stark prose dead-pan funny.

There is not much of a plot in Factotum. It is about Henry Chinaski (Matt Dillon) going on about life with the dogged determination to write, even if it means starving or sleeping on park benches. He meets and goes through a tumultuous relationship with Jan (Lili Taylor), and occasionally side-tracked to women like Laura (Marisa Tomei). For a man with so many jobs, Chinaksi goes through life in the familiar cycle of moving in with lonely woman in the bars, falling out of love with them, getting sacked on the job, and all the time sending his scribbles to John Martin at Black Sparrow Press.

Much was said about how well Matt Dillon played the part of Chinaski. Mr Dillon shambled through the show with a good-sized paunch, a wasted look in the eyes while speaking in a drawling voice. Well, he just about managed to make us empathize with the sorry character that is Chinaski. However, it was Lili Taylor’s Jan that won a best actress award at the Copenhagen International Film Festival.

Factotum is at times perplexing (why doesn’t the man get a proper job? Why doesn’t he be nicer to his women?), at times funny (though not in the laugh-out loud manner), but it is always heavy going. It delivers a message of hope, but only in times of utter desperation.


The visuals in this film are composed in flat and unflattering light, adding realism to a very raw movie. Kristin Asbjornsen's Bjork-like score also managed to enliven some of the more draggy portions of the show while bringing out the melancholy and hurt in the main characters. This film is offered in English Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1.


Another proof that festival films no need special features, they have funky websites such as http://www.factotummovie.com



Review by Lim Mun Pong



Other titles from Comstar:

. Me And You And Everyone We Know

. Lemming

. Adam's Apple

. Crazy

. Invisible Waves

. Paradise Now

. She's The Man

. Russian Dolls

. Beyond The Sea

. Kursk

. Voice

. The Last Communist

. Jasmine Women

. Running Wild

. You are my Sunshine

. My Girl & I

. Half Light

. Mur (The Wall)

. Mrs Henderson Presents

. Hidden

. The Descent

. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

. A Season for Love

. Horror Theater Series 2

. Horror Theater Series I

. Capturing the Friedmans

. The Wig

. A Wicked Tale

. As It Is In Heaven

. When I Turned 9



This review is made possible with the kind support from Comstar


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