With all that said, let me explain why Arizona Dream was for me, much more of a nightmare. Released in 1993, well after all the fine actors involved had already established themselves, there’s a reason the DVD “menu” was just a blank screen that said “Use the >>l button on your remote to navigate through the movie at 10 minute intervals”. The opening of this film, a scene in the Arctic with a family of Inuits, is intriguing to say the least. Depp emerges next and gives his thoughts on life via the first of many heavy narrations, and you’re willing to see where this ride is going. But once he and his whacked-out cousin (Vincent Gallo) arrive in Arizona a few minutes later and Jerry Lewis enters, it soon becomes clear that there is no story in this film, just a smattering of scenes-where all characters seem to just act rather than react- sprawled out over two grueling hours that feel like five.
Faye Dunaway plays a woman who falls in love with Depp and tries to build flying machines to take to Papua New Guinea, Lily Taylor is her manic, suicide-obsessed daughter who plays an accordian to her pet turtles with a cigarette dangling from her mouth, and Vincent Gallo, in what is easily one of the most annoying roles of all time, plays a wannabe actor with an unexplained, obsessive hatred for one scene from North by Northwest and a penchant for…well I don’t even know what. Depp meanwhile seems to just change from scene to scene and be fascinated by whatever is going on at the moment.
Nothing ties together, people talk of dreams, act kooky, and live and die without any of us giving a damn. And that was this film’s biggest problem; I did not give one crap about any character in this film- in fact I downright didn’t like them, with the exception of Jerry Lewis, who is sorely underused. This all of course can be blamed on writer/director Emir Kustarica, who committed one of my greatest cinematic pet peeves with this film- making a movie for himself and not for the audience. I just didn’t get it, and because of the way Kustarica drew these characters, I didn’t even want to try.