- Ted Demme
- Reviewed by
- a.k.a. Coffee
- Review date
- Wednesday, September 05, 2001
Not just the hippies or the beatniks or the existentialists, no – everyone. And while officially of course Hollywood was clean the secret passion of many a great director or movie star was the abuse of some pretty illegal substances. For a long time the subject of “High America” was non-existent in U.S. film productions but recently Hollywood’s creative minds have taken an interest in the theme which used to be off limits.
While one of the resulting masterpieces – Traffic (2000) by Steven Soderbergh – shows different levels of drug distribution and how various people live off or with drugs, Ted Demme’s new movie Blow takes a different approach. Blow tells the story of George Jung (Johnny Depp) and describes without prejudice his unique career as a professional drug dealer.
Jung and his buddy Tuna (Ethan Suplee) leave their dreary suburban home in order to lead an easy life of parties and pot in California. Soon after their arrival they meet Barbara (Franka Potente) who introduces them to the local small time drug dealer and hairstylist Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens). The crafty gay coiffeur gives the odd couple of youngsters the chance to sell marijuana on the beach for him. Soon they decide that they need a direct access to much larger shipments of pot and go directly to Mexico to find a friendly “farmer” who can provide them with more dope than they ever dreamt of...
Blow is a picture about a drug dealer. That alone is an innovative idea in the sense that this particular profession has not been dealt with much from a neutral point of view. On the other side there are moments in the movie where I felt reminded of other pictures dealing with the life story of some infamous gangster. The parallels to other crime-related biopics are clearly visible.
However the ease with which Depp sketches the weird and unlikely story of Jung is one of the definite pros that Blow can list for itself. Another notable role is played by German actress Franka Potente (Run Lola Run). Potente does a great job and shows that she can compete with some of Hollywood’s regular girls from the second tier of female casting.
Penélope Cruz manages to shock as the first tempting then slutty Mirtha who abandons Jung when he loses his fortune, while Ray Liotta and Rachel Griffiths give convincing performances as George’s disappointed parents.
To sum it up: Blow is too close to its central character’s biography to surprise the viewer, however it does tell you a lot about a rather unusual type of job. And about the fact that the people who deal drugs are still... well, people.
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