Henry Chinaski (Dillon) considers himself a writer, and on occasion writes. Mostly he quests for the booze and women that sidetrack and seduce, rather than inspire greatness. When he falls for Jan (Taylor), the soulful connection fails to save either from their self-destructive ways, and the relationship totters between earnest connection and reflective loathing. With exceptional performances that capture the intoxicated journey though life and art, “Factotum” is the story of a man living on the edge; a writer who risks everything, tries anything, and finds poetry in life’s pleasure and pain.
The definition of “Factotum” is roughly “a man who does many jobs,” and that is precisely what this film is about. Based on an autobiographical novel by Charles Bukowski, “Factotum” chronicles the daily life of an aspiring writer, Henry Chinaski, whose alcoholism prevents him from holding down a job for more than a day or two. As he moves from mediocre job to mediocre job, he drinks himself into a stupor and has relationships with two women he meets at bars. Not much else happens in the movie besides this one man’s quest to be constantly drunk. The only thing he does consistently besides drink, is mail writing samples to various magazines and publishers. Apparently these latter efforts paid off for the real Bukowski, who did eventually gain fame as a writer. “Factotum” makes no bones about portraying the character of Chinaski as an uncaring person. In one scene, he walks into a bar, hits his girlfriend across the face, and berates her before walking out. Whether this behavior was characteristic of Bukowski, I’m not certain, but due to this and other elements, “Factotum” is not approved by Dove.