Dennis Hooper is a Hard Drinking Truck Driver who loses...
Richard Ross | 09/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I went to the theatre to see this 20 plus years ago (!!!) I did not know what to expect and at first it did not fit the description, but Dennis Hopper's directing and acting is a perfect back drop for Linda Manz's incredibe star performance. Way more "Punk" then most Punk films. And probably Dennis Hopper's most important film, and perhaps his least regarded."
A Deeply Disturbing Dennis Hopper Movie? Really?
Richard Ross | 10/27/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When we first see Cebe Barnes (Linda Manz) she seems to be a normal girl enjoying a happy childhood. She wears clown makeup and sits on her dad's lap as he drives her to school on a rainy day. Our preconceptions are shattered however after we witness her father (Dennis Hopper) hand her his empty beer bottle so that he can pop some pills. While he's getting high he loses control of his vehicle and plows into an oncoming school bus killing dozens of children and sending him to jail for 8 years. This is only the first scene. Things can only get darker from here and believe me they do.
While her father sits in jail, Cebe is left to fend for herself. Her mother is no help since she spends her days sleeping with her boss and her nights shooting up with Hopper's pals and sleeping with them too. A pissed off Cebe, hating school and her home life, dreams of nothing more than to escape from it all. She hitchhikes all over Vancouver winding up at punk rock concerts where she feeds off the anger and energy of the crowd. A product of her parents Cebe loves to get high and start fights. There is a terrifying scene midway through the film where a passed out Cebe, after shooting up, almost gets raped by a john who picked her up and brought her back to his drug pad. The camera pans over to a stoned woman in lingerie watching all this as it happens. Cebe is a huge Elvis fan and has built a shrine to him in her room. It's safe to say she looks up to the King as much as she does her father since their pictures are side by side. Cebe dreams of him coming home and reconciling with her mother. She longs for things to go back to normal (or as normal as this life sadly must seem to someone living it). After Hopper is finally released from jail he has a hard time re-adjusting to life on the outside. He doesn't seem all that shocked to learn his wife's drug use has intensified since he's been away or the fact that she's sleeping with his best friend (Don Gordon). He joins the two of them in getting high. Being addicts, their relationship is built on paranoia and an uncontrollable urge to score. Their fighting turns physical and soon not even Cebe is safe from her dad's wrath. Making matters worse is the fact that the parents of the dead children from the bus crash show up at Hopper's door intent on making him pay for his crimes. Some of the stuff that happens is among the most shocking and disturbing I've ever seen in a film. The last 30 minutes in particular are too horrifying to think about yet once seen it'll stay etched in your memory for a long time.
Hopper does an amazing job as both actor and director. He rubs viewers faces right in the nastiness. We become unwilling participants in the downward spiral of this family. It doesn't take much imagination to see why this is one of writer/director Harmony Korine's favorite films. (For all of the nastiness in 'KIDS', I found this film far more harrowing). Linda Manz does a phenomenal job bringing this complicated character to life. Cebe is exposed to so much violence and darkness that Manz as an actress has to convincingly sell those feelings of hopelessness and despair. She does so a little too effectively. Probably the only moments of relief come from Raymond Burr who has a small role as a social worker trying to break through to Cebe and help her turn her life around before it's too late.
This is one harrowing film experience. It's not pleasant at all nor is it meant to be. Dennis Hopper deserves a lot of credit for sticking to his vision no matter how disturbing it is. He first did it in 'Easy Rider' and he does it again here - taking you on an intense journey that you know will end badly yet when it does you're completely shocked and devastated."