May 14, 2015

Heaven Knows What (2014)

Heaven Knows What (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Ben and Joshua Safdie
Country: USA

Movie Review: Somewhere between “Streetwise” (a confessed influence) and “Panic in Needle Park”, “Heaven Knows What” was written by Joshua Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, based on the forthcoming autobiographical work “Mad Love in New York City” by the protagonist and first-time actress, Arielle Holmes. Arielle plays a version of herself under the name Harley, a homeless heroin junky whose boundless love for other junky, the ungenerous and inscrutable, Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones), made her slit the wrists as a way of proving it. Constantly left behind by Ilya, Harley repudiates the funny stalker, Skully (Ron Braunstein aka Necro), and joins the dealer, Mike (Buddy Duress - a real street legend from Queens), who is actually more concerned with his drugs than anything else. Directed by NY brothers, Joshua and Ben Safdie (“Daddy Longlegs”), the film – an independent blend of fiction and documentary with a 70’s look and bristling synth score - is set with vibrant tones and exhibits a notable camera work, as well as a radiant photography by Sean Price Williams (“Listen Up Philip”). The performances were consistently compelling, especially if we consider that most of the main actors are not so experienced. One exception is Landry Jones, who was given leading roles in “Antiviral” and more recently in John Boorman’s “Queen and Country”. This doomed love story was approached with total respect for its character, smartly combining a few amusing situations with the unhappiness that involves the whole story. The ending was particularly intriguing, making me wonder what, in fact, happened to the real Arielle. Did she ever change her life? Is she stranded at the same point as before? Even if not at the same level as its influences, “Heaven Knows What” induces sincerity in its reenactments, dragging us out of our comfort zones.

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