This is a brilliant and beautiful movie which is truly a real "downer," because it brilliantly depicts a "downer" sub-culture. I'm a therapist, who came of age during the 60s. I've always been interested in the subject of communes and Utopian communities. This film does a great job in showing the ugly underbelly of one of these sorts of commuities; in particular, an "experiment gone wrong."
Because this film was so dark and disturbing, I did not find the film "enjoyable" in the traditional sense. It was, however, beautifully shot, and well-told. I find this to be somewhat in the tradition of Kubrick's "2001," or "Clockwork Orange," (or even the very disturbing Kubrick-Spielberg film "AI").
I certainly am not saying this film-maker has the chops of Kubrick, however, I most definitely am saying that this film-maker shares a kinship with Kubrick (and even shares a favorite theme of Kubrick's, which is despoiled innocence). In any case, through his own artful and disturbing story-telling this director/writer deserves respect for his work. This is a well made film. It should not be neglected by anyone who takes the art of film-making seriously.
As a therapist, I did not find the characters anything but believable. The actors were all good to sufficient for carrying the plot forward. The characters were complex, and well-drawn. The cinematography was beautiful (certainly not of Kubrick's stature, but let's be somewhat realistic about where we set the bar - shall we). True, the narrative was somewhat "chaotic" - as befits the chaotic life-style of the characters in question. People using that many drugs simply do not have a "linear consciousness," therefore a tasteful use of non-linear "chaos" is appropriate, as it evokes the experience of the characters' consciousness.
I think that the nay-sayer critics of this film, who I have read, either don't care for the darkness of the film (especially without "boffo" special effects; as in a Batman movie), or they simply don't care for the subject matter (and it's inherent darkness).
Like "2001," "Clockwork Orange," or "AI" I certainly did find this film disturbing. It was not "entertaining" in the typical sense, but it a very solid cinematic effort, especially for an early work from a fresh director.
If you are interested in the themes which this film deals with, it is easily worth your time, as long as you can benefit from a dark film, with limited "hopefulness" (within it's own limited world) and devoid of comic relief.
Fortunately, there have also been a few "intentional communities" where parents have been committed to the well-being of their children, and those children have had decent childhoods. Some of those communities still exist today; so there's some hope in that as well. Of course such "balanced" considerations were outside the scope of this film, and that is entirely reasonable too.