Blow


Directed by: Ted Demme
Written by:David McKenna, Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Rachel Griffiths, Paul Reubens, Franke Potente, Ray Liotta
Released: August 23, 2001
Grade: C+

This film is an “interpretation” of actual events.  It’s worth emphasising because the persuasive one-sidedness of Blow borders on propaganda.  Johnny Depp’s leading character, George Jung, does exist and like the film tells, has been in and out of jail for drug dealing all his life.  What disappoints is how we are made to feel sorry for George as if he didn’t deserve to go to jail for breaking the law because he’s such a nice guy.  Bullshit.

Spanning from the late 60s to the early 90s, the film is gold for the costumers and make-up crews.  We meet George as a youngster living in a house of poverty with his father (Liotta) and mother (Griffiths).  Dad warns him that money isn’t everything (hint hint) but when George moves to California and hooks up with local drug dealer Derek Foreal (Reubens), a new world opens up.

In an era where demand far exceeded supply, George’s business became a multi-million dollar empire overnight.  Within ten years, George owned houses, boats, airplanes and despite increased government surveillance, was smuggling up to 50kg of cocaine (otherwise known as “blow”) between countries.  He was the man.

Sure enough, it all came crashing down but according to screenwriters David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes, it was everyone else’s fault and this is Blow’s major flaw.  Few performances impress and Depp is a little too cool and glamorous for the role (you’ll see what I mean when you get a look at the real George Jung in the final scene).  Griffiths and Liotta are the cream of the crop but considering Griffiths is five years younger than Depp, is it really appropriate to have her play his mother?  Romantic “cameos” are provided from starlets Franke Potente (Run Lola Run) and Penelope Cruz (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) but neither is particularly dazzling given the film’s focus is on drugs rather than romance.

The misleading trailers for Blow paint the flick as a slick, hip, comedy.  Yet, the lack of purpose and frustrating monotony have the film share more similarities with a two hour university lecture.  Perhaps the creators were sniffing a lit blow during production.  It would explain a lot but as I keep saying, it’s not an excuse.