Best of… Series – 2004 – Clean

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

Clean (Olivier Assayas, 2004)

Clean is, perhaps, the best redemption film I’ve ever seen. The film focuses on a drug-addicted woman trying to prove to her boyfriend’s parents that she can take care of her child after his overdose suicide. We follow the woman, played by Maggie Chueng, as she tries to find a place for herself in the world and take the steps to becoming a better person. Much of what I’m saying sounds a little cliche, but the film is nearly void of such. The woman is still rough, and even as the film ends she is still very much learning. The movie makes no attempts to simplify what it takes to truly change your life.


The film’s two main performances – Chueng and Nick Nolte, who plays the boyfriend’s father – are absolutely outstanding. Both are arguably the best of each actor’s career. Nolte’s firm approach to the situation while still having a forgiver’s heart is not an easy personality to portray, but he does it flawlessly. Chueng has the task of presenting a character with a rough persona who is making subtle, yet important changes in her life. And to accompany the performances is outstanding cinematography. It’s beautiful city shots like in this film that make me question whether cityscape is really that much less beautiful than landscape. This movie is perfect.  10/10



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