TIFF ’23: Gonzo Girl

Based on the Cheryl Della Pietra’s semi-autobiographical book from 2015, Gonzo Girl depicts her experiences working for Hunter S. Thompson. Walker Reade, a resident of the Rocky Mountains, is attempting to resurrect his writing career in the early 1990s. The public, publishers, and different hangers-on put pressure on Reade to finish his work until he meets Alley (Camila Morrone). Alley is the most recent in a line of assistants who were unable to manage the work and then deciding to quit while under the influence of drugs. She quickly understands that Walker, who hasn’t created quality work in 15 years and uses drugs and alcohol frequently, is in a creative slump. As a result, she then begins to create her own tale.

From Arquette’s perspective, Thompson’s narrative provides a unique and captivating glimpse into the tumultuous world of a writer in internal conflict. This portrayal differs significantly from previous attempts, avoiding a superficial take on Thompson. Instead, it delves deeply into his intricate persona as witnessed through the eyes of another ambitious young assistant, who, like her predecessors, emerges as a survivor. She courageously endeavors to unlock his potential, preventing its abandonment. In the role of Walker Reade, clearly inspired by Thompson, Willem Dafoe delivers one of his most exceptional performances in years. He skillfully portrays a multifaceted character in a way that feels fully realized and meticulously observed.

Gonzo Girl is playing at TIFF ’23. For more information, click here.

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