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Film review: ‘For No Good Reason’

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Johnny Depp is a distraction in this documentary about artist Ralph Steadman.

Two and a half stars

For No Good Reason Directed by Charlie Paul. Rated R. Opens Friday.

Despite his numerous accomplishments, artist Ralph Steadman has been consistently overshadowed by his renowned longtime collaborator, writer Hunter S. Thompson. The documentary For No Good Reason doesn’t do much to remedy that, focusing on Steadman’s work with Thompson and giving a co-starring role to Thompson’s most famous onscreen avatar, actor Johnny Depp.

Steadman’s trademark chaotic pen-and-ink drawings adorned numerous Thompson articles and books (including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), and the movie offers a strong showcase for them, but its portrait of Steadman’s life and personality is more inconsistent and disjointed. Director Charlie Paul jumps around chronologically and drowns his subject in visual clutter and a loud, oppressive soundtrack. Depp clearly respects Steadman, but his presence is still distracting. It’s fascinating to hear about Steadman’s mix of frustration with and admiration for Thompson, but the artist often doesn’t even get to take center stage in his own movie.

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