It’s hard to think of a writer who had a bigger booze-muse than Charles Bukowski, and Barfly does as good a job as you can imagine at capturing the lofty literary air of gutter drunkenness that made Bukowski famous. Mickey Rourke (then at the dawn of his self-destructive period) plays the author’s alter ego, Henry Chinaski, holding forth from a bar stool while knockin’ ’em back with Wanda (Faye Dunaway, at the dawn of her ruined period).
Temptation comes calling, in the form of a lovely literary editor (Alice Krige), but to accept the life of ease and comfort she offers, he’d have to give up his lowlife ways and Wanda. Impeccable casting makes the movie, of course, but so does director Barbet Schroeder’s complete mastery of tone. The whole thing is like a Tom Waits ballad come to life. Bukowski, who wrote the screenplay, has a cameo as (what else) one of Henry and Wanda’s fellow barflies.
Next Animal House