Mickey Rourke plays a skid row hero in BARFLY
“No money, no job, no rent. Hey, I’m back to normal.”
Barbet Schroeder’s 1987 booze soaked drama BARFLY is based on a screenplay by the late great poet/author Charles Bukowski. Mickey Rourke stars as Henry Chinaski (Bukowski’s alter ego) a down n’ outer who extolls virtues in between getting soused. The unemployed, destitute Chinaski spends his days writing and visiting the nearby watering hole where he carouses with the colorful fleabag patrons and gets into fights with the surly bartender Eddie (Frank Stallone) who he despises due to his macho, arrogance. When Henry meets an older woman named Wanda (Faye Dunaway) who also likes to drink, the two hit it off and begin living together. Meanwhile, a wealthy publisher named Tully Sorenson (Alice Krige) who’s highly impressed by Henry’s writing, locates him through a private detective (Jack Nance) and offers him a lucrative deal. Following their meeting, Henry and Tully have a brief fling but he soon realizes that a life of wealth and success isn’t his truth. He soon heads back to his old ways of living on the skids, free from being owned. Mickey Rourke gives a special performance as Henry, a comical, bruised stumblebum with the heart of a poet and the voice of W.C. Fields. When he made the movie Mickey was mainly known for playing heartthrobs in films like The Pope of Greenwich Village and 9 1/2 Weeks. He does a total 180 with this role, spending most of the film looking like he’s been put through a meat grinder then dropped in a puddle. BARFLY is a gem that gives us an up close look at Bukowski’s sullied view of the world. It surely isn’t glamorous but there’s an inherant sense of honor amongst the dregs within that gives it a charm and lasting quality.