Film Scouts Reviews

"Sweet Nothing"

by Karen Jaehne

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Winnick's got an unmistakable message: drugs destroy your life. We know that, but we don't often get to see it in such agonizing detail. With a script based on some diaries found in an apartment in Queens, Winick and writer Drysdale fashioned a gruelling "how-to-go-to-hell-on-crack" biography of a basically nice guy.

Angelo is a depressive, paranoid, lying, stealing, abusive father. How did he get that way?

He had a dumpy data-processing job on Wall Street that didn't pay enough to support his wife and two kids. His friend Raymond cut him in on a little dealing. Soon Angelo is snorting up the profits. And Raymond dismisses him as not "ruthless." True, Angelo's a wimp, even if he is an ex-marine trained in martial arts and can win a few fights. His wife Monika is a mother played with a touching bit of working class sweetness that toughens up and gets very real when she has to go to work to support the family that Angelo is short-changing due to his habit. His life follows the predictable decline of the addict, and it's sad to watch. Really sad. Particularly because he loses Mira Sorvino to get high. That's gotta be some kinda high - you know what I mean?

The problem with this kind of film - and the story's been done before - is that the filmmaker can't show what a guy gets out of crack. Show us the high! Make us feel the thrill! Nobody's yet been able to do that little thing that will demonstrate the tension in a life where a guy makes such a disastrous choice. When so much is at stake. Give us a hint of why somebody would screw up everything and turn into a guy who hangs on a corner hoping not to get beat up or arrested. Then you can call the choice "sweet nothing." Until that is a possibility, films about panic in needle park remain ad-copy for "just say no."

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