Clean – A Review

April 26, 2010 at 11:12 pm (Uncategorized)

Lee is a faded rock star with a drug problem. He and his partner Emily have a son Jay who lives with Lee’s parents in Vancouver. Lee and Emily are in Hamilton to see Metric play, but also to arrange a record deal.  (the club appears to be Toronto’s Big Bop though) In this relationship, Emily, played by Maggie Cheung, is Yoko to Lee’s John. After a fight, Emily leaves to shoot up and sleep in her car. When she returns the following morning, she finds the police at the motel, and Lee dead from an overdose. After a struggle with the police, a quantity of heroin is discovered , and as a result Emily receives a six-month sentence.

Thus begins Clean, a 2004 film directed by Oliver Assayas and starring Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte. Clean is the story of Emily’s life after Jay’s death; how she comes to terms with her responsibilities towards her son jay, for her own life, and for her part in Lee’s death.

Emily’s initial response is to deny. After meeting with Lee’s father Albrecht , played in a superb understated style by Nick Nolte, Emily agrees not to see Jay and decides to rerun to Paris. She gets a job in her uncle’s restaurant as a waitress, but bored with the hard work and low pay reconnects with friends who share her drug fueled lifestyle.

But confronted with the utter hopelessness of this path, Emily decides to get clean fo her son. As  she moves away from drugs, she is given new opportunities, both with her son and in a new career path (a demo made in prison is going to be recorded).  A new life, a clean break.  

Clean is quite beautiful. It’s thoughtful, and pulls the viewers in , so that we actually care for a person who has made dreadful choices. We want Emily to make it. The film also features a terrific soundtrack with music from Mazzy Star, Metric, Brian Eno, Tricky and many more. Indeed, several rock stars have cameos in the film including Metric, Tricky, and David Roback formerly of Mazzy Star. (Lee is played by former Gallon Drunk and Bad Seed James Johnson). 

Get clean.

1 Comment

  1. Music Notes April 2010 « Notes from Underground said,

    […] reviewed the movie last week, but I just got the soundtrack. The soundtrack has music from Brian Eno, Tricky, […]

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