NAKED LUNCH — CLASSIC FILM PICK
David Cronenberg brings William S. Burroughs' notoriously "unpublishable" and "unfilmable" novel of heroin-induced hallucination fantasy and anal obsession to zesty cinematic life with an outrageous film that very nearly accomplishes the book's goal of "extinguishing all rational thought."
With clinical precision, Peter Weller plays Burroughs's alter ego Bill Lee, who works as an exterminator —read as undercover-typewriter-wielding-junkie-satirist — who discovers that his wife Joan (Judy Davis) is copping his "insecticide" powder to get high. She should know better than to touch a man's stash.
Bill answers to a corporate "controller" for the CIA-styled "Interzone" who sends him on a mission to kill his wife — something that Burroughs accomplished in real life during a deadly game of William Tell, for which he was never legally punished
Cronenberg pulls out all the stops with alien-head talking typewriters that give orders to Bill with more sardonic irony than two Hunter S. Thompsons put together. The wit in dry, very dry.
Easily the trippiest film to come out of the '90s, "Naked Lunch" is a gnarly balm to all of the Tarantino-inspired gun fests unleashed after "Naked Lunch" made cinema screens drip with a surreal syrup that sticks to your eyeballs and intestines like literary goop.
"Lunch is always naked" and so is Cronenberg's stylistically ambitious interpretation of William S. Burroughs's twisted genius. You might even be inspired to pick up the book.
Rated R. 115 mins. (A-) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)
Help keep Cole Smithey writing reviews, creating video essays, and making podcasts. Click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.