Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Molly Parker, Keira Knightley, Harry Eden, David Wenham
Director: Gillies MacKinnon
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Set in the East-End of London, PURE is a story about the bond between a family and the pull of drugs. Following the death of his father, ten-year old Paul (Harry Eden) becomes the caretaker of his family mother Mel (Molly ... more »
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mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 08/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Pure" could be viewed simply as a drug addiction movie, but I was relieved to find that it isn't simply that, as I've seen too many overwrought addiction movies at this point. "Pure" is the story of a 10-year-old boy trying to save his mother -save her from heroin, from her dealer, and from the law. Mel (Molly Parker) has been overwhelmed by life's demands since the death of her husband left her with 2 young boys to raise. She turned to heroin for consolation, but it got the best of her. She can no longer hold down a job or meet her children's needs. Young Paul (Harry Eden) knows only that his mother is sick, and he will do anything to help her -the household chores, look after his little brother, even prepare the "medicine" that makes Mel feel better. But Paul slowly realizes that something is not quite right with his mother. He doggedly tries to understand and resolves to help his mother kick her habit. But Paul finds himself navigating a complicated world of conflicting interests and values: his possessive grandmother (Geraldine McEwan), his mother's manipulative dealer (David Wenham), a police detective (Gary Lewis), Social Services, and his new friend Louise (Keira Knightley), a young woman with a heroin problem of her own.
I love the genuineness of Paul and Mel's relationship. Paul acts exactly as a bright, independent child would. He's fiercely protective of his mother. And he does what's best as he sees it, with limited perspective and little power, to help his mother and preserve his family. He pursues his goal with the single-mindedness and acceptance of a child and the determination of an adult. Paul and Mel express a closeness that is characteristic of a parent and child who work together to survive under difficult circumstances. They're flawed, and they know it. "Pure" has a great supporting cast, but there are many moments when Paul carries this film on his shoulders, which is a credit to writer Alison Hume, director Gillies MacKinnon, and Harry Eden, who was actually 12 years old when "Pure" was made. Keira Knightley was 16 or 17 when she played Louise, a likable young waitress who refuses to get her life under control no matter what the consequences, and Knightly fans will find this a promising example of her early work. "Pure"'s pacing could have been better. It's plodding at times. But the film's young perspective and honest emotion won me over.
The DVD (Indican 2006): Bonus features include a theatrical trailer, a Photo Gallery of 11 publicity stills and behind-the-scenes photos, a Poster Progression slideshow of 8 movie posters, a slideshow of 8 cast and crew bios (text), and an interview with director Gillies MacKinnon (34 min). The interview with MacKinnon is interesting, but it seems interminable. Too much of a good thing. He discusses the idea that "Pure" is not about heroin but about a "little boy's heroic attempt to save his mother'", in contrast to his 1990 film "Needle", working with a child actor, the reason the film unfortunately got an 18 rating in the UK, creating the mother/son relationship, colors, camera work, score, and more."
mirasreviews | 08/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I probably shouldn't review it so soon after watching it, because my "intellectual side" probably isn't online right now. This is a powerful drama, flawless in conception and execution, about a ten-year-old boy with a dead father, a mother addicted to heroin, and various and sundry other problems to deal with. I've watched two British films about heroin addiction this year and been moved to tears by both, but I've never met a heroin user in my life. We don't have heroin in Watha. We probably don't have British DVDs in the stores either. We don't even have stores. But I digress. If you see this one, grab it. I know I'll watch it again. I just don't know how many times. Oh, and if you're an author, consider this. "There are no minor characters." If you'd like to see this premise in action, get this film. After all the crap I've reviewed this week, you don't know how happy it makes me to cite an instance where a novelist can learn from a filmmaker."
"I just know I can kick it!"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
Socially conscious and beautifully acted, director Gillies MacKinnon sets his tale of junkies and young boys and wayward mothers in the working class housing estates of Northern England. This film has a gritty, uncompromising sensibility that is certainly going to repel some viewers, while attracting others and it mostly works until the end, when the film tends to replace hard-nosed and obdurate realism with contrived sentimentality.
Pure is a cautionary tale, a look at the world of suburban heroin abuse through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy. Paul's (Harry Eden) dad has died of a heart attack and now he heads his household, looking after his younger brother Lee (Vinnie Hunter), and smack-addicted mother Mel (an absolutely terrific Molly Parker). Paul's grandmother (Geraldine McEwan) is not happy about this situation at all and has been trying desperately to keep Mel's addiction problem within the family.
Paul doesn't know what a "junkie" is and resents the schoolyard bullies who say his mother is one. Whilst he naively dolls out his mother's "medicine," he hangs around with the children of his mum's friend Vicki (Marsha Thomason). It is Vicki who seems more like a junkie, always on the verge of death and unopposed to selling her body in exchange for a fix.
Alarmed by Vicki's latest overdose, Mel wants to kick the habit herself and seeks to do so cold turkey, on her own, not in a clinic but barricaded in her bedroom. It falls on Paul to supervise her, to keep her locked up and away from the junk no matter what she says. This plan does not sit well with Lenny (David Wenham), Mel's dealer and sometime lover, who also abuses her and obviously does not want to lose a client to abstinence.
During the course of the story, Paul strikes up a friendship with Louise, (Kira Knightley) a kindly café waitress. Mel warns Paul to stay away from Louise as she's bad news and the local social services department has already taken her baby away from her. Louise also a client and Lenny's and thinks nothing of getting high in the presence of Paul.
Obviously the centerpiece of the film is the great love and the fierce loyalty that exists between mother and son. Even in the darkest days of Mel's addiction, Paul is determined to stand by his mum. Eden as Paul is stoic and fearless and is so convinced that Mel can break the cycle of drugs that he goes to extraordinary lengths to help her.
Pure is so well acted - by all the players - that despite its faults it deserves admiration. Molly Parker is quite a revelation as Mel, and you really do believe that she's a washed up junkie who just can't even get out of bed in the morning and is willing to sacrifice everything she loves, including her family for the drug.
It is interesting to note that although Kira Knightley gets top billing here, she is really only a supporting player. Yet her performance is still one of frantic hopelessness - there is little that Louise can do to escape the cycle of poverty and drugs and her final scene in the film is quite heart wrenching.
Of course, the ending tends to go for drug movie clichés - the police are called in for a big bust - and some of the plot points are manipulative on the one hand and at times defy credibility on the other. Yet Pure does present quite relentlessly, the social problems of heroin addiction, which tend to plague these Northern English housing estates and how children such as Paul must face difficulties and challenges that no child should realistically have to face. Mike Leonard July 06.
East London -- not Northern England
Ken Ness | Brooklyn | 08/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just want to add to the very fine precis already posted a brief correction about location (Netflix has it wrong, too--they claim it's set in west London.) To those, such as myself, who are fanatical about English football the location is obvious from the very first seconds of the film, when "I'm forever blowing bubbles" is sung in the background and the camera pans down to an aerial view of the Boleyn Ground (Upton Park.) And throughout the film the central character and his younger brother sport the famous claret and blue of West Ham United--one of the best loved (though under-achieving) clubs in England, the pride of the Cockney homeland of London's East End.
I'm adding an extra star just for all the West Ham references!"