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:: Blow

‘Blow’ is the true story of the introduction of cocaine to a hungry American market and George Jung, the man who made it all happen. With a funky soundtrack and clothes/hairstyles to match, it takes us from George’s life as a young boy, deciding that he was never going to struggle for money like his dad, to his hippie pot smoking days in California and his eventual rise to Pablo Escobar’s right hand man. It follows through to his fall to prison, where he currently remains incarcerated.

Johnny Depp is, as always, mesmerising and completely convincing as George Jung. However none of the other roles rise much above caricature. And that is ultimately the downfall of the film. It creates the sense, particularly in the second half that much has been glossed over. We have to like George Jung to go with the film and so the portrait it paints becomes very one sided. There is no dark side to George. The ending casts aspersions on his real life daughter for not visiting her father in jail; a low blow when she cannot possibly give her side of the story in such a Hollywood manner.

Rachel Griffiths plays George’s mother, Ermine, and she does a credible accent and a layered performance, let down somewhat by the makeup aging process which has her sitting across the table from her twenty five year old son looking no more than five years his senior. Paul Reubens is slowly making a comeback from his Peewee Herman days and is entertaining as Derek Foreal, a California hairdresser who becomes George’s major cocaine connection.

The direction is slick and fast paced, looking sometimes more like an ad for retro clothing than a film and is quite a leap from Demme’s previous work, which includes The Ref and Beautiful Girls. It is an entertaining, easy to look at film that ultimately doesn’t dig very deep. But that is probably appropriate considering the powdery subject matter.

Screening on general release including Dendy Brighton.