Unfit Mom at Center of International Melodrama
Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung) doesn’t have much going for her. This moody, chain-smoking, drug-addicted, aging, aspiring rock star won’t give up her elusive dream of one day becoming famous. This self-destructive path might be okay, if it weren’t for the fact that she’s a parent and her husband (James Johnston) is just as immature, unfit and restless. Then, when he dies of an overdose, she lands in prison while her son, Jay (James Dennis) ends up in the custody of her in-laws (Nick Nolte and Martha Henry). Paroled from prison, Emily’s primary mission is to be reunited with her boy, but she must first kick her narcotics habit for good, and then prove that she’s capable of handling all the responsibilities required of a good mother. Will she come to terms with her plight and clean up her act? Or will she fail in her attempt to adapt and settle down?
That is the essential question at the center of Clean, a picture which covers a lot of grown in order to address a fairly simple issue. Despite the cinematic capture of exotic locations around London, Paris, San Francisco and Vancouver, this dysfunctional family drama works primarily because of the stellar work of Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte as the principals wrangling over the well-being of young Jay. The very capable cast also includes Don McKellar, best known as the director of The Red Violin.
A worthwhile examination of the crash landing of a delusional junkie with an attitude who’s been behaving like a spoiled-rotten diva.
Excellent (3.5 stars)