Tag: Drugstore Cowboy

June 11, 2007 / / Film Notes

Director Gus Van Sant’s 1989 feature Drugstore Cowboy is surprising in that it manages to tackle heavy subject matter while remaining remarkably light on its feet. It moves at a steady but unhurried pace and gives humor and heartbreak equal time. The story concerns a crew of junkies in the Pacific Northwest who rob drugstores to maintain their high, and Van Sant achieves the nigh-impossible by treating the issue with an understanding of both the allure of addiction and the horrors that it can lead to. Charges that it glamorizes drug use carry a shard of truth: early scenes of the gang shooting up are rendered as dreamily blissful, and Matt Dillon is casually seductive as Bob Hughes, the slim, clever, and undeniably cool leader of the crew. But one doesn’t easily shake the image of the bluing corpse that causes Bob to try to kick his habit later on, nor forget the lingering, melancholy uncertainty of Drugstore Cowboy’s final frames.