The line concluding Matt Dillon’s opening monologue basically sums up the ever-popular drug drama genre: “We were playing a game we couldn’t win.” Yet, director Gus Van Sant does more than simply guide us through the often lockstep plot of an addiction drama. Rather than walk you through the plot of the film, I’ll just point out some features that gave this movie 4.2 stars out of 5.
The description of being high in the beginning, with accompanying animation, following the intense opening scene, let the viewer know immediately that he is in for a ride—with both the directing and the action.
Matt Dillon’s screen presence, piercing dark eyes, gaunt but distinguished features, and slightly raspy baritone provide a smoothness and cohesion that forms an excellent balance with the intentionally jarring directing and plot action.
Dillon’s bond with the policeman antagonist was humorous, and signaled that the movie certainly was not going to focus too heavily on the cat-and-mouse subplot.
Terrific, understated supporting roles. Kelly Lynch is fabulous as Dillon’s cool and confident partner and romantic companion.
Great shots of dreary mid-80s Portland.
The eerily-arranged jazz (including a song with pigeon noises mixed in) and abundance of closeup shots lend a palpable discomfort–an itch not unlike the addictions of the main characters. The music was excellent.
Overall, the viewer desperately anticipates the next episode of wild action or depraved, yet often touching, personal interaction. In other words, every scene was like a drug high, leaving me craving even more.