I have got to agree with the previous reviewer that this movie is about various aspects of personal decadence and degradation. It's the story of a kid with potential (which is quite obvious from the onset) who spirals down the vortex of smack addiction and cannot come back. It is a story of disenchanted youth, of street harshness, of strayed paths and choices made that lead to very different outcomes, of a life reclaimed from the gutter, of an gruesome experience not only survived but also utilised for further growth.
It turns out that the story is about a poet and musician named Jim Carroll. Even better. I had no idea who Jim Carroll was before I saw the movie but this didn't take away from the movie. The fact that someone, anyone really, went through such experiences and lived to tell the tale was a powerful enough theme to make this movie an apt depiction of the hellride that is known as street junk... and of the boundless potential of human beings, no matter how downtrodden and beaten they are.
Having said that, the movie lacks the sharpness of a script that would place it in the top levels. The whole atmosphere is quite compelling, though, and transmits the arid reality of the urban desert, making up for the textual shortcomings. The four youths come across as a gang of great friends tested in the heat of puerile carelessness, and one cannot help but wonder how their lives would have turned out had their fifth friend not died from cancer, which is what sets off the whole downward spiral in motion ever so inconspicuously.
At the end of the day, people will do anything to feel good again. They will even die for it. Jim Carroll chose to live and tell the tale though. Let the man's story inspire despite the shortcomings of the film. "It's like a finger that points to the moon. Don't look at the finger or you'll miss all the heavenly glory."