No previous drug-themed film has the honesty or originality of Gus Van Sant’s drama Drugstore Cowboy. Pic addresses the fact that people take drugs because they enjoy them.
Set in Portland, Oregon, in the early 1970s, Drugstore Cowboy tells of one self-confessed and completely unrepentant ‘drug fiend’ (his own description), Bob Hughes (Matt Dillon). He robs drugstores, not for money – for drugs.
Backed up by a ‘crew’ consisting of his willowy but tough wife Dianne (Kelly Lynch), his dimwitted but true-blue pal Rick (James Le Gros) and Le Gros’ weepy, bumbling girlfriend, Nadine (Heather Graham), Dillon revels in his self-described life of crime.
Dillon’s world begins to sour when Graham dies of an overdose. The incident so frightens, him he vows to give up drugs entirely. Unfortunately, Lynch refuses to go along with him.
It’s a novel conflict. Dillon is kicking the habit for personal reasons – he still likes drugs. He and Lynch still love each other, but for junkies, drugs make every romance a triangle.
Van Sant draws fine performances from his cast, particularly Lynch, who up to now has appeared as the obligatory Sexy Girl. This is her acting debut. He also gets one truly great performance from Dillon.