‘For No Good Reason’ movie review: 3 stars

Johnny Depp helps tell the story of Ralph Steadman.

The documentary “For No Good Reason” tells the story of Ralph Steadman, famed artist and collaborator with Hunter S. Thompson, in an appropriate style for a master of gonzo journalism.

It’s an affectionate look from director Charlie Paul, with an assist provided by Johnny Depp, whose visit to Steadman anchors the film.

Paul animates Steadman’s humorous, sinister caricatures and layered cubist designs, shows them off in montages that are occasionally accompanied by questionable soundtrack choices (Jason Mraz?) and rather astounding footage of the artist with Thompson and firing guns with William S. Burroughs.

But it’s also a movie that embraces the strong rebellious streak that has defined Steadman’s work, the artist’s deeply-held belief that his art should speak truth to power.

The film exerts its strongest pull when Paul chronicles the development of Steadman’s social conscience, from experiences photographing skid row in New York during the early ’70s through his illustrations accompanying Thompson’s anti-Nixon work (remember Henry Kissinger as a spider? That’s Steadman.) and his persistent refusal to give into the forces of commercialism. It is for that reason, above all, that Steadman has earned this tribute.

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