Glum, yet tender and surprisingly playful, Norwegian director Bent Hamer’s (“Kitchen Stories”) adaptation of Charles Bukowski’s 1975 novel of the same name, from a script co-written by producer Jim Stark and with a chiseled, middle-aged Matt Dillon as stoic as a latter-day Buster Keaton as he rehearses the daily patterns of Bukowski’s familiar alter ego Henry Chinaski. Failing at one menial job after another in a bleak, downcast Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chinaski spends off-hours at drink or working up tales with titles like “My Beer Sodden Soul Is Sadder Than All the Dead Christmas Trees in the World,” while also finding predisposed spirits in fellow alcoholics played with radiant matter-of-factness by Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei. Superlatives could shower on any of these performances, which never grow monotonous and Dillon’s quiet complexity surpasses even his great moment in “Crash” when he saves Thandie Newton from a burning car: he plays Chinaski’s dogged dignity without sodden sentimentality. The droll, often poignant “Factotum” is a languorous marvel of adaptation, with knockabout poise. (Some material came from other books with the more Bukowskian monikers of “The Days Run Away Like Wild Horse Over the Hills” and “What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through The Fire.” With a skeevy Fisher Stevens. Plus, I admire Hamer’s reported description of the movie to Minnesota’s Sons of Norway after they said the script was too racy, what is it really about? Hamer: “The film is about fucking and drinking.” Executive producer Christine Kunewa Walker also worked on “American Splendor.” 94m. (Ray Pride)
“Factotum” opens Friday at Landmark Century.