London-based Emily Wang gained minor notoriety from her VJ-ing on cable television. She is now more renowned for being the longtime girlfriend and pseudo manager of rock musician Lee Hauser...
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London-based Emily Wang gained minor notoriety from her VJ-ing on cable television. She is now more renowned for being the longtime girlfriend and pseudo manager of rock musician Lee Hauser, who seems to be on the brink of stardom. Those that know the couple believe she is a bad influence on him, and is the reason why he is a junkie. After Lee dies from an accidental heroin overdose and Emily is imprisoned for six months on possession charges, she learns that the courts have awarded custody of their young adolescent son, Jay, to Lee's aging parents, Albrecht and Rosemary Hauser, who live in Vancouver. A concerned Albrecht asks that she not attempt to see Jay for at least two years while she cleans up her act so as to give Jay a fighting chance at a decent life. Emily initially agrees, knowing that she is in no position to look after Jay. To regain her life, she decides to move back to her old stomping grounds of Paris. As Emily tries mostly unsuccessfully to become clean while eking ... Written by
To get the full, globe-trotting flavor of "Clean," one need simply note that Emily Wang is a Chinese immigrant living in Paris with her British rock star boyfriend, and that their child is being raised by the young man's parents in Vancouver, Canada. All I can say is that "Babel" clearly has nothing on this film when it comes to international story lines spanning widely varying cultures and time zones.
Though a French film, "Clean" actually begins in the English-speaking section of Canada where Emily and her husband, Lee Hauser, both heroin addicts, are desperately attempting to jumpstart Hauser's fading music career. The couple seems to be patterned somewhat after John Lennon and Yoko Ono, since everyone around them seems to think that Emily's undue influence on him is bringing him down both personally and professionally. When Hauser dies of a drug overdose, Emily - who earned some renown of her own as a music show hostess on an MTV-style interview show on French TV a decade or so back - is arrested for heroin possession and sentenced to six months in prison. Upon her release, she returns to Paris, agreeing not to have any contact with her son until she can kick her drug habit and make a decent life for herself.
As a cautionary tale about drug addiction in the music business, "Clean" doesn't show us anything we haven't already seen in countless films (and VH-1 specials) on this very same subject before. Yet, although the movie is a bit too scattered in its focus at times, when it is zeroing in on the things that really matter - Emily's attempts at overcoming her addiction and her efforts at forging a meaningful relationship with her young son - it is poignant, profound and deeply touching. The movie is blessed with a pair of outstanding performances by Maggie Cheung as Emily and Nick Nolte as Hauser's father, a kindhearted soul who believes in forgiveness and who offers a helping hand to a woman whose life, despite all her best efforts, is constantly teetering on the edge of disaster. Their scenes together, as the two characters reveal their fears, insecurities and even tentative hopes to one another, are both spellbinding and breathtaking, and show us what fine movie acting is really all about.
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