Clean by Olivier Assayas |Maggie Cheung, Nick Nolte, Béatrice Dalle | 660200313722 | DVD | Barnes & Noble
Clean

Clean

4.0 1
Director: Olivier Assayas

Cast: Maggie Cheung, Nick Nolte, Béatrice Dalle

     
 
A woman throws herself into a last-ditch struggle to conquer her demons in this gritty drama from director Olivier Assayas. Lee Hauser (James Johnston) is a faded rock star who lives with his wife, Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung), the former host of a European music video show, in a small town in Western Canada. Both Lee and Emily have been battling drug addiction for

Overview

A woman throws herself into a last-ditch struggle to conquer her demons in this gritty drama from director Olivier Assayas. Lee Hauser (James Johnston) is a faded rock star who lives with his wife, Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung), the former host of a European music video show, in a small town in Western Canada. Both Lee and Emily have been battling drug addiction for years, and when Lee finally dies of an OD, Emily finds herself charged with possession of heroin and ends up spending six months in jail. Lee and Emily's son, Jay (James Dennis), has been living with his paternal grandparents, Albrecht (Nick Nolte) and Rosemary (Martha Henry), and while Emily is eager to see her son after getting out of jail, Albrecht persuades her that she needs to get herself clean before she can reconnect with Jay. Determined to get off methadone, Emily relocates to France, where she scares up a job as a waitress and moves in with her old friend Elena (Béatrice Dalle). Emily's attempts to start a new career and stay off drugs prove to be an uphill battle, and she doesn't appear to be winning her fight when she learns that Albrecht and Jay will be accompanying Rosemary to London for medical treatment when Rosemary contracts a serious illness -- and that Albrecht is considering making a side trip to Paris. Clean was screened in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The humanistic, traditionally shot and edited drama Clean is a far cry from director Olivier Assayas' previous collaboration with actress Maggie Cheung, the off-the-wall deconstructionist Irma Vep. The compositions are uncluttered with a geometric attention to shapes and lines which, combined with the lighting, accentuates the effect of modern industrial architecture. The landscape is reminiscent of Scandinavia or the Netherlands, and although the film takes place in Canada, Paris, and London, this seems deliberate given the stark personal story contained within. (And Assayas' love of Ingmar Bergman.) The gray-blue backdrop that the lead character, recovering heroic addict Emily (Cheung), inhabits could represent the cold harshness of the uncaring world in which she must build her life and her tough, emotionally guarded way of doing so. It could also show a refreshing eagerness not to wallow in the excessively decadent visual clichés of a hundred other movies about heroin addicts in order to emphasize the emotional over the physical. Emily's desire to be with her son, Jay (James Dennis), is conveyed through brief silent gestures. While anticipating a weekend visit from him, a shot showing Emily preparing his bed, taken from outside the bedroom, touchingly captures the frustrated love coursing through her veins. What at first seems like unemotional behavior becomes a sign of deep inner strength. Occasionally the film is too reserved. Like Emily, Clean opens and closes its emotional valves at its own choosing, and not always where it should. The ending, wherein Emily sings a self-penned song in a recording studio, should be the denouement of this character, when we sense to the truest extent what this character has emotionally been through. Afterwards everyone around her seems to think she's done a great job and Emily acts exhausted, but the scene feels underplayed to a fault and tarnishes Cheung's otherwise wonderfully intimate performance. Emily's character, and Cheung's portrayal, is enhanced by Nick Nolte's pitch-perfect embodiment of her ex-husband Lee's father Albrecht. Nolte's grizzled warmth exudes love, patience, responsibility, and hard-won wisdom -- he's the ideal adult in a film where 40-year-olds still want to live like they're 20. In his first lengthy meeting with Emily, Albrecht's advice anchors the film, "I believe in forgiveness. People change. If they need to, they change." Documenting one person's potential for change is certainly an affecting idea and Assayas says he wanted to make Clean "extremely simple and universal as possible." What's at stake is whether or not Emily is disciplined enough to meet her own challenge and lead a straight life. For this character study to work, Emily needs to be an engrossing person, however selfish or unlikable her actions. Maggie Cheung is certainly more than talented and interesting enough for the role. Assayas' stylistic choices can make the action a little too reserved and underwhelming for the story, a too-tidy visual approach for a lead that staggers and stumbles through life. But overall Clean is still an affecting, carefully assembled drama.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/18/2006
UPC:
0660200313722
Original Release:
2004
Rating:
NR
Source:
Palm Pictures / Umvd
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:51:00

Special Features

Interviews with Maggie Cheung, Nick Nolte, Oliver Assayas, Tricky and Metric; 5.1 Dolby surround sound; US theatrical trailer; Palm previews; Web links

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Maggie Cheung Emily Wang
Nick Nolte Albrecht Hauser
Béatrice Dalle Elena
Jeanne Balibar Irene Paolini
Don McKellar Vernon
Martha Henry Rosemary Hauser
James Johnston Lee Hauser
James Dennis Jay
Laetitia Spigarelli Sandrine
Tricky Actor
Liz Densmore Actor
David Roback Actor
Emily Haines Actor
Ian Brown Actor
Laura Smet Actor
Remi Martin Jean-Pierre

Technical Credits
Olivier Assayas Director,Screenwriter
Shaheen Baig Casting
Luc Barnier Editor
Antoinette Boulat Casting
John Buchan Casting
Niv Fichman Producer
Bill Fleming Production Designer
Bill Flynn Sound/Sound Designer
Éric Gautier Cinematographer
Herwig Gayer Sound/Sound Designer
Xavier Giannoli Producer
Matthew Gledhill Asst. Director
Françoise-Renaud Labarthe Production Designer
Xavier Marchand Producer
David Roback Score Composer
Anais Romand Costumes/Costume Designer
Guillaume Sciama Sound/Sound Designer
Daniel Sobrino Sound/Sound Designer
Millie Tom Casting
Edouard Weil Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Clean
1. Doing Deals [6:54]
2. Bad Influence [5:52]
3. Overdose [5:10]
4. Jail Time [3:01]
5. Settling Accounts [9:00]
6. Paris [5:21]
7. Emily's Music [6:38]
8. Sandrine [3:34]
9. Tricky [12:37]
10. I've Changed [7:57]
11. A New Home [2:54]
12. A Visit to the Hospital [3:08]
13. A New Job [6:25]
14. Dashed Hopes [4:46]
15. You Have My Word [10:40]
16. A Deal [7:38]
17. Recording [5:24]
18. End Credits [3:26]

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