This week I have a quick one for you. I wanted to talk about the trailer for Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. This is an Amazon Studios creation, directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Joaquin Phoenix, based on the memoir of John Callahan. I’ve mentioned the importance of ‘show don’t tell’ many times during these trailer talks, and if there is one genre that really latches onto that concept, it’s arthouse dramedy.
This trailer is very sparse in dialogue. It opens with what looks to be a meeting of a sort of support group. We learn our main character is wheelchair bound and an alcoholic via the leader of the group (who is played by an almost unrecognisable Jonah Hill– sporting long blonde hair and beard and seemingly having lost a good amount of weight). John (Joaquin Phoenix) finishes relaying the history of his alcoholism and from here we are treated to a montage of shots from the finished product. I must say this film does look beautiful, assisted by the backdrop of John Lennon’s Isolation—a song very befitting for the subject manner.
We are treated to various character shots in some ridiculous looking situations, and others which seem extremely heartfelt. One that sticks out to me is John saving another wheel-bound person from being hit by a train by slowly dragging them behind him in his electric wheelchair. This is probably the most surreal few seconds of this trailer, and mixed in with what seems to be the usual character-based hints. The trailer ends with another small bit of dialogue between the support group, revealing a bit more of a sarcastic side to our main character (one that seems to fit in with the dramedy genre).
Even when punctured by such phenomenal music, this feels like a very quiet trailer designed to show us the characters and… not much else. There’s no real reference to any plot throughout the trailer other than the mention of John’s Alcoholism –but there doesn’t need to be. The target audience of dramedy Indie films pay the admission price for a character study – not some high octane, visceral action. This trailer has shown me enough to get me interested, even though I don’t quite know what to expect. Hopefully, the next trailers for this film will remain as vague.