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Naked Lunch

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Canada, United Kingdom, Japan · 1991
Rated R · 1h 55m
Director David Cronenberg
Starring Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands
Genre Crime, Drama

Blank-faced bug killer Bill Lee and his wife, Joan, like to get high on Bill's pest poisons. After receiving a new centipede-based drug from the devilish Dr. Benway, Bill accidentally kills Joan, takes orders from his typewriter-turned-cockroach, and ends up in a strange Mediterranean city, where he must wrestle with addiction, sexuality, and memory loss.

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What are critics saying?


Washington Post by

It feels studiously surrealistic, an excuse for cinematic buggery; deep in its center there's a lack of conviction.


Washington Post by Hal Hinson

There's a synergistic overlap here between Cronenberg's own particular brand of weirdness and Burroughs's; they're both twisted in ways that complement each other nicely.


The New York Times by Janet Maslin

For the most part this is a coolly riveting film and even a darkly entertaining one, at least for audiences with steel nerves, a predisposition toward Mr. Burroughs and a willingness to meet Mr. Cronenberg halfway.


Chicago Reader by Jonathan Rosenbaum

This David Cronenberg masterpiece (1991) breaks every rule in adapting a literary classic - maybe On Naked Lunch would be a more accurate title - but justifies every transgression with its artistry and audacity.


Austin Chronicle by Marjorie Baumgarten

Ultimately, Naked Lunch is more about the act of writing, while the original is concerned with the phenomenon of addiction. Each does what it does well… but differently.


Time by Richard Corliss

The movie is way too colorful - cute, in a repulsive way, with its crawly special effects - and tame compared with its source.

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