Oscar? winning director Alex Gibney presents a probing look into the uncanny life of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson inventor of gonzo journalism and author of the landmark Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Accompanied by an iconic soundtrack, this fast moving, wildly entertaining film addresses the major touchstones in Thompson s life from his intense and ill fated relationship with the Hell s Angels to his deep involvement in Senator George McGovern s 1972 presidential election.
Gibney recounts the major biographical details, from birth to suicide, but his film really comes alive when he gets to the late-1960s. Though Thompson remains best known for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Gonzo concentrates on his coverage of the 1968 and ’72 presidential elections. The author was particularly excited about George McGovern, and chose advocacy over non-partisan reporting. McGovern, Pat Buchanan, Ralph Steadman, Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner, and others testify to Thompson’s enthusiasm for the South Dakota senator–and hatred for Nixon. Gibney argues that the fire started to die after Hunter witnessed the brutal treatment of protesters at Chicago?s Democratic Convention. Disillusionment led to an erosion of his talent and an escalation of his self-destructive tendencies.
As Johnny Depp, who played him in Fear and Loathing, reads passages from his work, the doctor’s friends and family provide a glimpse of the insecure man behind the brash image. Gibney’s evenhanded depiction may disappoint true believers hoping for a glorified puff piece, but Thompson’s ability to speak truth to power with wit and passion comes through loud and clear.