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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Avoids the cliches of drug films, and Nolte is terrific
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...
Published on 20 Jun 2011 by K. Gordon

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The road to redemption.
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...
Published on 5 April 2010 by Ernie


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Avoids the cliches of drug films, and Nolte is terrific, 20 Jun 2011
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Clean [2004] [DVD] (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
3.0 out of 5 stars The road to redemption., 5 April 2010
By 
Ernie (Kent) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Clean [2004] [DVD] (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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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maggie Cheung really shines in this film, 29 Jun 2007
By 
This review is from: Clean [2004] [DVD] (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.

During this film the most touching scene was in the Vincennes Zoo with the boy and Emily who manages a heart-to-heart chat that convinces her son she's not why his dad died -- and might deserve to be his full-time mom. Several brief scenes between Nolte and Cheung does show mutual empathy ("I believe in forgiveness," he tells her) by this being said it gives some emotional authenticity to this film.

The inconclusive end makes the optimistic viewer like me believes in a final redemption of Emily, but it is open to different interpretations. If you are a fan of Maggie Cheung, then this movie is for you!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less than the sum of its parts, 20 Feb 2012
This review is from: Clean [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
The story of an ex-MTV presenter living with an ex-rock star, whose child lives with her in-laws in Vancouver... the rock star dies of an overdose, the TV star spends 6 months in jail, then jets between Paris, London & San Franciso to the sounds of Brian Eno, while trying to stay "clean", get a record deal, and access to her son. I'm sure we can all relate to that, especially with Maggie Cheung playing the world's most gorgeous recovering heroin addict, Nick Nolte phoning it in to get a free holiday in Paris & London, and the rest of the cast attempting to set the Olympic smoking record... it's not a bad film per se, just the kind of movie that's clearly been made by someone who's spent too long with the media crowd in Cannes and thinks that this is "real life".
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor Acting from Maggie Cheung., 25 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Clean [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
I was disappointed with this film.

I felt Maggie Cheung did not portray this character well to engage the audience, although in the extra section she explains how her approach was to non act the acting part which I felt was quite a pretentious thing to say.

I felt like she is at a stage in her career where she sees herself as being an actor's actor, she considers her success lies in doing as little as possible on screen to create a bigger impact, or I rather see this more as a flip side to being such a famous HK movie actress she gets to try something alternatively different in contrast to the other roles we usually see her in.

Having said this I was still disappointed with the acting. I thought it was the worst film I have watched in a long time. And I have difficulty in believing she won the award for best actress at Cannes.

I wanted her to give a bit more of herself when it counted in her acting but instead we got nothing, just a lot of blank stares, I didn't feel anything and it made me think - isn't a role of an actor to inject emotion into the roles they play to enable the audience to engage emotionally to the story? Or is that not what films about?

I don't think it is entirely Maggie Cheung's fault but instead the director's viewpoint, I understand his impetus in making the movie but it does not come off well on screen which is a shame because in comparison Nick Holte's screen presence is believable and the young boy is very sweet in the movie and both parts are played well - there were moments you really felt the tension and pull in the story through them.

And unfortunately I felt the actress was a fake.
I originally wanted to watch the film because I felt it would be refreshing and different to watch a well known actress play a role not usually you will see her in and maybe she is trying to pave the way for more Chinese actors away from the usual martial arts/prostitute roles you so associate Chinese actresses with.

But still I felt the role was a meatier subject matter that required more emotional depth that I felt was lacking unfortunately.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars i almost fell asleep, 26 April 2009
By 
R. Kavanagh "rkavanagh" (Yate, South Gloucs) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Clean [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Oh my god, where do I start, this film is so boring. It is so long winded. It is about a woman who is a heroin addict whose partner is a rock star and he overdoses on heroin, so she gives up the drug to win back her son who lives with his grandparents. The story is meant to be about her changing her life, getting off drugs and turning her life around. She takes methadone and then one day decides to stop, you do not see any withdrawal symptoms, just her taking a few pain killers, the film seems to show her not suffering any physical withdrawal at all, which kind of makes her coming off of drugs easy. There are various characters in the film that really don't have anything to do with the story, a character called Irene who is a lesbian who locks her ex girlfriend in a bathroom?? What the hell has that got to do with anything. Some black man who is a rock star called Tricky, you don't really know where he is supposed to come into it? Her working in her family's chinese restaurant briefly, you don't see the grandparents with their grandson (her son), very much, you don't see her in prison getting counselling or going through withdrawal. This is one of the most boring and worst films I have ever seen on drug addiction or somebody coming off drugs to change their life. If you want to see a good film about drug addiction, watch Trainspotting, The Basketball Diaries, Pure, Drugstore Cowboy or Acts of Worship. Don't waste your time with this one, it is very poor to say the least. I am taking my copy of it down the charity shop tomorrow. I would give it 0 stars if I could. Don't waste your time watching it, let alone buying it.
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