By William Wolf

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2014--HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT  Send This Review to a Friend

Here’s a case of a finely made film about characters you may not want to follow. Directed by brothers Benny Safdie and Joshua Safdie, “Heaven Knows What,” shown at the 2014 New York Film Festival, is about the degradation of drug addiction and the sad toll it takes on those hooked.

Ronald Bronstein’s screenplay follows fate of Arielle Holmes as teenaged Harley, a fictional character based on Holmes herself. Arielle leads a sad life on the streets of New York, going from bad to worse in her quest for drugs. She has a bad-for-her boyfriend, Ilya, played by Caleb Landry Jones, who mistreats her even though he has a certain amount of affection for her.

Getting heroin is a constant quest, involving begging and maneuvering, and there is always the possibility of violence, given the nature of dealing in drugs. Mainly the film explores the lower depths of life under such circumstances, and the rampant self-destruction attendant to the problem, especially as it affects Arielle.

The filmmakers impressively capture this world and make it look almost like a documentary. But the better the filming, the more difficult it becomes to watch its relentless downside. One can admire the achievement, and yet find the experience off-putting. Reviewed October 21, 2014.


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