Film Scouts Diaries

1998 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Cannes Diary #3: On Second Thought

by David Sterritt

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I left "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" telling each other that although we found much of value in this extraordinary picture, we would surely have little company in defending what's undeniably an extreme and excessive experience on just about every level. Since then, a series of conversations has revealed that countless critics walked away from the screening with some variation of the same idea, each convinced that he or she enjoyed the picture for quirky, personal, downright inexplicable reasons that few others could possibly share. The notion that "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" will inevitably be a commercial flop also appears to be widespread, but since the movie has become a cult hit among critics even before its release, perhaps it's destined for film-festival accolades and box-office dollars beyond its own wildest dreams. Could this include Cannes's coveted Palme d'Or, bestowed in recent years on such hallucinatory American productions as "Wild at Heart" and "Barton Fink"? Hard to imagine, but some of us contrarians are starting to cultivate furtive fantasies along these lines.

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