Mickey Rourke's performance is part impersonation and part "Method" - it is a kind of woozy acting turn that challenges the audience to decide if we are watching a comedy or a tragedy. In it's own way, Rourke's work here is brilliant but seems intentionally off-key. It was also very shocking to see Rourke look like he did in this film at that time. This wasn't the scruffy erotic dare sort of work audiences were used to.
Faye Dunaway is truly brilliant. Her work in this film was tragically ignored. This is one of the few times I've seen Dunaway play against type and in opposition to her movie star persona. This is pre-plastic surgery Dunaway and an actor trying to escape the camp fever she created as Joan Crawford. While Cher was great in "Moonstruck" it still seems unfair that Dunaway's work failed to receive the praise it deserved.
The movie has aged incredibly well. Even at the time I first saw it I remember thinking it could have easily been set in the 1970's. It has a timeless feel.
It also captures the essence of Bukowski's personality, philosophy and legend. It was rumored that both Rourke and Dunaway detested Barbet Schroeder. This is all the more interesting as he somehow pulled them to give some of their finest acting work.