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Clean [2004] [DVD]

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Product details

  • Directors: Olivier Assayas
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Momentum Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Aug. 2006
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FS9P0I
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,483 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung) is a woman who dreams of becoming a singer, but who struggles with being a mother, and with her life after her partner Lee's (James Johnston) death. Stuck in a desolate motel room in Hamilton, Ontario, and with a past full of drugs, regret, and a recent six-month jail term, the only thing she desires for the future is a loving relationship with her son Jay, who is being cared for by Lee's parents, Albrecht (Nick Nolte) and Rosemary (Martha Henry). While Rosemary blames Emily for the death of Lee, Albrecht recognizes the importance of the bond between a mother and her son, and his faith sets the standard for the faith Emily must find in herself. Emily sets off to Paris, London and San Francisco (the film following her in English, French and Cantonese), as she battles for a place in a world reluctant to forget the woman she has been and unwilling to accept her as the woman she longs to be.

Customer Reviews

2.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Gordon TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Jun. 2011
Format: DVD
Maggie Cheung plays a junkie rock ex-semi-star. Her common law husband, also a never-quite-made-it rocker in decline dies of a heroin overdose. She spends 6 months in prison for possession. Meanwhile her young son is being raised by her dead husband's parents.

Nick Nolte, as the grandfather does some terrific, nuanced work as a flinty man, with a soft heart.

He won't let Cheung see her son until she gets her life together, which she circuitously
does, weaning herself off drugs, getting basic work, and eventually starting the process of reconnecting to her son, especially as Nolte realizes, with his wife dying, and his own aging, the boy will eventually need his mother.

The film avoids the usual clichés and sensationalism of drug movies - no throwing
up or screaming withdrawals. It's low key and real, filled with small moments of life
rather than than dramatic highlights. It's willing to have lead characters who are unlikable
and selfish at times, and yet still makes us care for, and be moved by them.

But there's also a flatness to it. And a sense of familiarity and predictability to the plot, if
not the execution. It's great that it doesn't fall into melodrama, but it feels distanced. As
one critic put it `it avoids moralizing, but fails to replace it with anything'. A bit harsh, but
not without some truth.

Also, Cheung, while very good in spots, never seems believable as a junkie; she's gorgeous healthy looking and luminous on drugs or off.

On the other hand the photography is beautiful, and the score is filled with wonderful and effective music by Brian Eno.

Worth a look for the acting, and the small grace moments throughout.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ernie on 5 April 2010
Format: DVD
Clean revolves around the character of Emily Wang, the ex-partner of a faded rock musician named Lee Hauser.
When Emily and her boyfriend became absorbed in a life of music and drugs she abandoned her son to the care of his paternal grandparents, and after Lee dies from a drugs overdose, which results in Emily spending six months in jail for drug offences, the story follows her on her journey to both redeem herself of her past and to regain the trust of Lee's parents in order to rebuild the relationship with her estranged child.
As well as her emotional journey, the film also follows Emily as she embarks on building her own music career which takes her to various cities around the world and features cameos from various real life musicians like Tricky, Metric's Emily Haines and Mazzy Star's David Roback.
As you would expect from this type of film the quality of acting is high with a subtle but commanding performance from Nick Nolte as Lee's father Albrecht, and while it may not be the best film you've ever seen, if you're a fan of independent cinema then this is an enjoyable and rewarding film and well worth a look.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Directed by Olivier Assayas and with award winning Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte as the two main characters, “Clean” looked promising. Having seen a trailer for it, I thought I should be in for an entertaining (eve if, given the scenario, possibly an uncomfortable) film. I didn’t, though, expect it to be a dull and an often badly acted film – which is how I now perceive it to be.

Thinking that I was perhaps being too harsh in my comments, I had another look at the film. Not all the way through though this time as after ten minutes I had confirmed what I (even if only for myself) already knew – namely that it has some embarrassingly poor acting.

The worst of the acting comes from the lead actress but to be fair there is good acting in the film, but generally it comes from the supporting cast. The story is potentially a good one, but given the treatment of the director and his actors it came across as dull.

I am not aware of having seen Maggie Cheung before but in future would probably avoid watching films with her in the cast – if her performance in Clean was award winning I really fail to see why.

On the DVD you get:

The film “Clean”
Scene selection
Optional English subtitles
The Special Features include interviews with: Olivier Assayas, Maggie Cheung, Tricky, Metric, Don McKeller, James Johnston, Nick Nolte
And a trailer for Clean
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jenny J.J.I. on 29 Jun. 2007
Format: DVD
I came across this film the other day and found it rather intriguing. This is pretty much a simple story, a little overlong in places to the point that it does not lose pace or interest in the main characters plight. In here we have Maggie Cheung whom plays Emily Wang, a woman in Hamilton, Ontario, with a past of drug addiction and other life-ruining things. Following a raid, her son gets taken away from her and sent to live with his grandfather Albrecht (Nolte) in Vancouver, B.C. So, Maggie decides to restart her life in Paris. While visiting London, Albrecht takes the grandson to Paris to visit her, and then has to face a moral dilemma about whether or not keeping the boy from his mother is a good idea.

This is a poignant, and sometimes meandering study of one woman's uphill battle to sobriety, "Clean" is one of those movies that sneak up on you with a plot that continually puts the heroine in the flimsy position of not knowing if her own demons will give in to her will to survive or consume her.

Maggie Cheung gives a great performance as well as James Dennis, as her son, who probably has the strongest lines with the rejection to his mother. Nick Nolte performs an experienced nice man that believes in forgiveness, but he, actor, seems to be tired. Maggie is on-screen almost all the time except when scenes switch to London to focus on Albrecht, his mother, and Jay (and their anger towards Emily), and her performance is an absolutely moving tour-de-force. The camera clearly loves focusing on her alabaster face, deep eyes, and her low-pitched voice as she moves effortlessly from British English to Cantonese then to French. I didn't even know she spoke French and she speaks it very well.
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