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PINK by Gus Van Sant

PINK

by Gus Van Sant

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-385-48828-9
Publisher: Talese/Doubleday

The director of Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, and To Die For turns to fiction with this self-indulgent fantasy about the horrors of Hollywood, the trials of filmmaking, and the sadness of young men dying. In a style most reminiscent of Tom Robbins (whose Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Van Sant brought ineptly to the screen), Van Sant indirectly mourns the deaths of Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix. In his whining, quasi-allegorical version, Phoenix is a young informmercial (sic) host named Felix Arroyo, who works for the narrator, a gay informmercial director called Spunky Davis. Davis, an ``overweight balding man'' from Sasquatch, Oregon, is working, in his spare time, on a screenplay (``$Great Skull Zero$'') about a bizarre sci-fi adventure that he hopes to see produced in Hollywood. ``Pink'' is the name of the alternate reality hyped by Spunky's two young friends, Jack and Matt, who remind him of his pal Blake, a rock star who eventually commits suicide, and Felix, who has also died. Jack and Matt insist that ``Pink'' is real, and that they have come from that alternate reality. They've traveled through time to reveal themselves to Spunky in a vaudeville routine involving nudity, a yellow bag, and lots of kittens. The two--who claim that they are in fact alternate, otherworldly forms of Felix and Blake--are full of New Age godtalk and general good vibes. Van Sant cheapens his offbeat effort to grieve his young friends (and imagine their lives on some other, happier plane of existence) with a number of gimmicky effects--amateurish line drawings, different typefaces, footnotes, and a cartoon flipbook in the corner of the pages. The grossest conceit is Van Sant's linkage of his own passing troubles and anxieties with filmmaking and the deaths of two young superstars--his rant against the tabloids seems particularly lame given his own exploitative tendencies here. (Author tour)