Factotum – Review

Worth seeing: as a surprisingly breezy window into the world of a loser writer, flipping the bird to convention
Director:Bent Hamer
Featuring:Matt Dillon, Adrienne Shelly, Fisher Stevens, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei
Length:93 minutes
Released:18th November 2023


Henry Chinaski (Matt Dillon) is one of cinema’s lovely losers – someone who sabotages ever opportunity he ever makes for himself by giving up before he’s given it a chance.

In time-honoured movie-fashion, he drinks, smokes and gambles his way from one dead-end job to the next and from one doting girlfriend to another.

In a series of episodes from his life, his existence hovers somewhere between below average and downright depressing, living in decrepit apartments as he tries to follow his dream of becoming a writer.


Given the subject matter, this film is surprisingly breezy. It’s partly because of Dillon’s carefree performance sticks two fingers up – or, given that it’s American, just the one – to all society’s conventions that say you should aim to settle down and find a sensible job.

He lives his life on the edge, doing what he wants, when he wants – and chasing an apparently futile dream.

His encounters are balanced precariously in that cinematic territory, somewhere between reality and surrealism – somewhere in the vicinity of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The writings of Charles Bukowski are darker than Larry David’s take on the hopelessness of everyday life – not least because one’s a loser, when it comes to writing and women and the other is a successful Hollywood writer with a beautiful wife.

It’s intentionally episodic – some of the elements work better than others.

This kind of film can never be a rewarding way to spend an hour and a half unless it’s considerably more hit than miss, which this isn’t, but if you have little else to do, there are certainly moments that will make it worth your while.