Charlie Paul’s documentary on famed cartoonist Ralph Steadman is a completely intoxicating affair. Even in the presence of Johnny Depp, Steadman’s character, honesty and talent shine through a film that uses animation and visual flair with winning effect.
For No Good Reason is a fascinating documentary told through a one on one, very relaxed interview with an almost non existent Johnny Depp (much to his credit). The presence of Depp, given his star power, might have you thinking that Charlie Paul’s documentary is going to be overshadowed by him but it’s actually anything but. Depp’s presence seems to be more of a comforter for the famed artist, giving him the security to speak of his life anecdotally rather than the true form of an interview. And it works.
Charting the course of Ralph Steadman’s journey as an ‘I’m-yet-to-be-convinced-I’m-an-artist’ cartoonist who gets wrangled into work with a renegade journalist Hunter S. Thompson through to his signature political illustrations, works with William S. Burroughs, Richard E. Grant, Rolling Stone Magazine and his own personal bodies of work there’s a lovely sense of affability in the famed talent. There’s much to be learnt here and you’re schooled on Gonzo Journalism with great anarchic glee as we’re treated to not only anecdotes from the subject but also archival footage and animated sequences of Steadman’s work.
The film is a loving showcase of an artists work whilst also an intimate study of process and creation (you see him at work in his workshop creating yet another striking piece) which leaves you constantly in awe and how easy he makes it look. It is also a study of personal frustrations with global ideals (Steadman frequently references how he wants to ‘change the world’ with his art) and one of destructive relationships.
I walked into this knowing nothing about it and was riveted the whole way through. The film is a thrift 90 minutes and ne’er does it get bogged down in sentimentality considering there is so much reflection going on. Instead, the film works more as an insight and celebration into a true artists life and his participation in some of the most admired and polarising artistic expressions of the past 40 years. There is so much to enjoy in For No Good Reason, for artists it’s a no brainer and for fans of truly interesting characters and the politics of the times they lived in.. Guys and Gals, go nab a ticket.
FOR NO GOOD REASON releases in AUSTRALIA on OCTOBER 30, 2014 through SONY PICTURES RELEASING