(l-r) Ralph Steadman, Director Charlie Paul, and Johnny Depp. (Lucy Paul/Sony Pictures Classics)
For No Good Reason is a magical documentary in which Johnny Depp visits with his friend Ralph Steadman, and together embark on a journey exploring the life and work of one of the most radical artists in recent times.
The documentary also features appearances by Terry Gillian, Richard E. Grant, Hunter S. Thompson and Jan Wenner.
So who exactly is Ralph Steadman, and why was this film made about his life?
Steadman was born in Liverpool, England in 1936. He’s an artist, sculptor, writer, designer and cartoonist. Through his work, he collaborated in the illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Animal Farm. His writings include studies on Sigmund Freud and Leonardo Da Vinci. It was him, along with Hunter S. Thompson, who started Gonzo journalism.
Gonzo refers to a style of journalism characterized by its crude nature, which reflects the darker aspects of the world in a very realistic manner, oftentimes through an ironic and grotesque sense of humor. This style, born in the 1970s, focuses not so much on the news story, but the environment the story develops. In other words, the journalist is fully submerged in what happens and thus becomes a protagonist.
For No Good Reason explores all of these factors, and director Charlie Paul does an excellent job in presenting Steadman’s magnificent world in a truly artistic manner through vignettes. This project is clearly very close to Paul’s heart.
The project ultimately results in a close-to-perfect documentary that is chronologically well-structured and serves as the ideal depiction of this type of journalism. Despite its brilliance, it would be surprising for it to be a hit at the box office due to its complex content, and it’s geared more towards individuals familiar with the concept.
Others involved with the project who did an impeccable job are editor Joby Gee, animator Kevin Richards, and musical director Sasha Skarbek.
The heart of the documentary is of course Steadman, but for those who don’t know him, their main attraction to it will be Depp’s participation. Depp serves as the reporter and guide who is taking the audience on this incredible experience that is his friend’s life, and it all has the familiarity of two friends just…talking.
Overall, a brilliant documentary that you should not miss.
For No Good Reason
Sony Pictures Classics
Opens in select theaters Friday, May 2
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