Saturday, November 7, 2015


Written & Directed By: Joshua Safdie & Ben Safdie 
Inspired By The Book Written By: Arielle Holmes 
Cinematography By: Sean Price Williams 
Editor: Ben Safdie & Ronald Bronstein 

Cast: Arielle Holmes, Caleb Landry Jones, Eleonore Hendricks, Buddy Duress, Ron Braunstein

Harley loves Ilya. He gives her life purpose and sets her passion ablaze. So, when he asks her to prove her love by slitting her wrists, she obliges with only mild hesitation, perhaps because of her other all-consuming love: heroin.

This movie is crazy as it seeks to keep you on your toes and off center throughout. It is a slice of life that feels like it lacks are tidier and goes out of it's way to show the downside of drug abuse. Which yes we have seen many times. Though it has been awhile. Then again just as we have seen many other stories a bunch of times. So one more won't hurt and all that matters is how it is told and the individuals story. Here we get more of an insiders guide. Cinema verite style.

The film Feels a bit like misery porn as there is no shame throughout this film. We see the rarely good, but plenty of the bad and ugly. I can't really call the film exploitive as it is stylized a bit, but feels like an experimental attempt to tell a story but also a show off film to show how edgy the filmmakers are by going after the truth. Like a less surrealistic, more realistic drug addiction tail like REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Though we are thrust right into the tale rather then showing the beginning like how the characters started in the addiction. We also get very little told about anyone's past.

Think of this film as a modern day PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK. Without the luster of seeing classic New York locations.

For some it might be like seeing the day to day life of those addicts or characters you see it encounter on the train or New York streets.

Caleb Landry Jones is barely recognizable. Which is how deep he goes into character here. He is also the only recognizable cast member who might be a professional actor. As the character of Ilya this ghost like menace. Who is the main characters ex who at the beginning of the film demands that she commit suicide as an appropriate apology for cheating on him. He seems to haunt the film as he stares in judgement and treats her like crap, but seems to give off a sense of caring

Arielle Holmes makes an impressive debut. As this film is based on her book a kind of journal/biography of her life on the streets as a drug addict. Written in a Apple Store using the free computers there. It's interesting to see her now clean having to relive all these moments.

The film almost seems like a documentary. It is more docudrama as there seems to be a voice and reason for this film and why it was made. Not to mention keeps moving forward.

Throughout the film stays realistic as the level of dirt and grime is a supporting character that could easily take over as the lead.

At times it's hard to believe it is going anywhere. Though stays hard hitting and feels disturbing half of the time. The film is not an empty endeavor.

The film feels almost like an 80's film with it's washed out look and man on the street type camera work as well as a soundtrack that feels ambient. Then sometimes it adds to the scenes and comes along naturally.

There is no pretension in any of the performances. Which is a danger sometimes that you encounter in films if this nature. They all feel like characters you have encountered it seen like this.

Seems filmed on the streets with no permits as it seems rate that there are rarely any actual sets or setups or grand camera shots.

Goes into detail on how these junkies who are often homeless survive and hustle for money and drugs. Sometimes shelter

Throughout the film it is hard to see why she is in love with Ilya so deeply and cares so much what he thinks. Throughout the film things ha he yet remain the same which the ending clearly illustrates.

The film never comes close to having a message nor having it's characters clean up their act though you might hope for it.


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