Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Story of Redemption

by Olivier Assayas

In Clean we see a woman struggling to put her life together after giving up her various addictions and her fame as a rock star. Olivier Assayas wisely builds the film around Maggie Cheung and focusses on her struggle to rebuild her life and reconnect with her son. Shot in a casual style with long takes and a blurring between reality and fiction caused by the appearance of real rock stars, it works much better than stories of drug addiction because it focusses on the people and not the addiction.
Near the beginning of the film there is a great performance of “Dead Disco” by the band Metric, with the magnetic Emily Haines, which firmly establishes the film in the world of music. As things progress we move around the world with Emily and see glimpses of her former life. An outstanding supporting performance by Nick Nolte as Cheung’s father-in-law adds complexity and depth to a story that doesn’t take the easy way and avoids cliché. A great film that makes you care about the characters and shows you subtle glimpses of life that show the power of cinema and of actors who know exactly how to play a role.

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