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Blow (2001)

  Directed by: Ted Demme
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Rachel Griffiths, Ray Liotta, Franka Potente, Paul Reubens
Links: Blow on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Based on True Story

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Blow (2001) is also mentioned in mino's review of Finding Neverland (2004) and mino's review of From Hell (2001).

"Eerily familiar" - a review by mino

A tale of a life in crime: a kid in a family struggling to make ends meet; a youth getting involved in the ‘small end’ of organised crime. A man making his way up through the ranks, to become one of the kingpins. Getting mixed up in ‘hard’ drugs: having it all seem so much fun until it all comes crashing down. Shrewish mother; overbearing wife. Ray Liotta failing to age gracefully.

Y'know, for a while there, I thought the guy at the video shop had put the wrong tape in the case. If I didn't know better, I could have sworn I was watching Goodfellas (1990). Obviously, the similarities (and there are more than that: the whole feel of the movie is very similar in parts) are partially coincidental, as both Goodfellas and Blow are effectively true stories: however, it's still pretty clear which movie Ted Demme had been watching when he decided to make Blow. If it wasn't for the fact that Goodfellas was one of the greatest movies of our time, and Blow is merely passable, then there'd be some serious explaining to do.

Now, don't get me wrong: Blow isn't a bad movie. I'll admit that I was expecting something pretty horrendous: while I try to avoid hearing too much about movies before I see them, I'd heard a bit about Blow, and most of it was less than complimentary. As I recall, Blow was released in fairly close proximity to Traffic (2000), and suffered from the comparison in most people's eyes (much like Antz (1998) did coming out so close to A Bug's Life (1998), or Deep Impact (1998) did with Armageddon (1998)). The problem here is, I didn't really think that Traffic was that great a movie: and, it turns out, I think Blow actually holds up pretty well against it.

Admittedly, it only holds up for only one real reason: Johnny Depp. I really think that Depp is one of the very best actors of his generation, and it's his performance that drags Blow up from ‘very mediocre indeed’ to ‘not half bad’. Depp is George Jung, US cocaine kingpin of the 70s and 80s, a role he seems to very much enjoy. Not being very familiar with Jung, I can't really comment on how well Depp portrays him as a person: but as a character, he does another wonderful job. He's supported by a fairly mixed cast: Liotta as his father is quite good, for example, and Paul Reubens (looking very like Alan Cumming here) is fantastic as the outrageously camp drug dealer Derek Foreal. However, these good performances are partially dragged down by some bad ones: Rachel Griffiths tries very hard, but can only do so much, horribly miscast as she is (Johhny Depp's mother!?); then, of course, there's Penélope Cruz. Yowch. She only appears fairly late in the piece, but she really is a terrible actress, and nearly drags the whole movie down with her. The second she appears on the screen, you can feel the mean talent level drop immediately. Frankly, Cruz supplies Blow with the most disturbing wooden delivery since Noah rang ‘Mount Ararat Plumbing and Hardware’ and asked them to drop off 40 tonnes of gopherwood next time they were in town.

Otherwise, the biggest problem with Blow is that, much like Traffic, it just doesn't seem to have its heart in it. Everyone bar Depp seems to be going through the motions, including the writers and the director. A very entertaining story is marred by some horribly clichéd scenes and dialogue, and the whole thing just seems a little ‘paint by the numbers’ — particularly the ending, which just kind of trails off without the same intensity of the rest of it.

If you're a Depp fan, or you were disappointed by Traffic, see Blow for a very interesting look at the ‘other side’ of the 80s drug culture: if you're feeling like watching an absolute masterpiece of cinema, I kind of think maybe you ought to be looking elsewhere.

mino gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 8 Jan 2004

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Reader comments

  1. Johnny Deep is HOT

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Sarah on Tue 02 Mar 2004 07:18 #

  2. Johnny Depp is so hot and this is such a great movie!!!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Emily on Tue 23 Mar 2004 05:49 #

  3. Johnny depp is the best actor ever and he is hot

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from melissa on Wed 31 Aug 2005 10:51 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (3 ratings)

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