Schrader's masterpiece, a real life portrait of NYC before it became a yuppie haven. A story about personal discipline, trust in one's self and one's friends with a big time Bressonian payoff at the end. The story ( a drug dealer's life transition) is trite. The real story, about how trust and hope and the belief in outside grace can make life worthwhile, is deeply touching, suspenseful and joyous. Schrader had not presented this kind of payoff in a film since American Gigolo. It is among the most moving and comforting climaxes of any movie in the last 25 years and I've seen 90% of anything worth watching or even considering. With career best (including Last Temptation) performances by both Dafoe and Sarandon and a really decent widescreen transfer by Optimum (although no decent extras) any real fan who has missed this has missed one of the truly sublime moments in Paul Schrader's career. And you know that he is an artist who counts. Watch it, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. In an article in Film Comment, Schrader lays down some groundrules for great cinema. One of them, which had not really resonated with me before, is repeatability. This is a film which one can watch over and over again with special friends and by oneself, and always receive a tremendous and positive emotional charge. See for yourself.