A darkly funny, stylish, and realistic look at the world of drug addiction in 1971, DRUGSTORE COWBOY focuses on Bob (Matt Dillon) as the leader of a bedraggled quartet of addicts who get what they need by robbing drugstore pharmacy departments in the Pacific Northwest. His crew consists
of his wife Dianne (Kelly Lynch), Bob's sluggish lieutenant, Rick (James Le Gros), and his underage girl friend, Nadine (Heather Graham). After one particularly fruitful heist, Bob devises a scheme whereby they can all stay constantly high, at least for a while, by sending their stash of drugs
ahead of them via Greyhound bus as they migrate through the region. Hot on their trail is Gentry (James Remar), a cop bent on nailing Bob. Gus Van Sant's direction here is supremely confident, fusing witty camerawork, neat editing, and a jazz-oriented score to make DRUGSTORE COWBOY an
exhilaratingly bumpy ride. DRUGSTORE COWBOY presents a rare insider's view of the drug lifestyle that is all the more refreshing for its lack of facile moralizing or apologies. It's a true comedy of desperation. After many photogenic but unchallenging roles, Dillon is a wonder here, portraying his
antihero with an empathy that recalls James Cagney, Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Robert De Niro. The film's producers anticipated that DRUGSTORE COWBOY might receive an X rating for its explicit depiction of drug paraphernalia and use. Luckily, their fears proved wrong, allowing this honest,
genuinely independent film to reach the broad audience it deserves.
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