The title alone seethes with blackish, iconoclastic hilarity; self-deprecating humor of a quadriplegic, destined to navigate the streets bound to a wheelchair; John Callahan’s (1951-2010) life, depicted with Procrustean power by Joaquin Phoenix (his acting acuity knows no parameters); writer/director Gus Van Sant lionizes John’s gravitas with insouciant pulchritude; a man who conquers alcoholism using laconic cartoons as a therapeutic means to an end. Phoenix’s breathless performance is awe-inspiring.
The film’s success, enhanced by a slimed Jonah Hill, as “Donnie”, John’s caustically no-nonsense, wealthy sponsor; subtle and sensitive Rooney Mara, “Annu”, John’s insightful girlfriend; Jack Black is superb as bibulous “Dexter”, the catalyst for John’s life-transforming condition. John’s journey through the twelve step program, concluding with revelatory enlightenment, mimicking John Ruskin’s intuition that “to see clearly is poetry, prophesy, religion all in one”. “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” is a triumph of fortitude, fearlessness, and faith.