Watch a video clip of Johnny Depp at the "Blow" London premiere.
Just because a film about drugs is not a scorching sermon, and includes scenes of happy party-goers smoking and sniffing an array of substances, does not necessarily mean that it is encouraging such habits. Indeed we don't need to be told that drugs are bad, since the decline and downfall of George Jung, the real-life subject of this film, is example enough.
As a bouncy, go-getting Bostonian who moves to California, the young Jung sold pot before becoming the key American figure who took powder cocaine from being an obscure illegal drug to a massive billion-dollar business. Jung had the Lear jets, the salivating women, the houses with maids, the untrammelled pleasure; yet Ted Demme's film - littered with such illustration of indulgence - also features the border-crossings, illicit flights, money-laundering, and murder. He does, however, know just when to drop in light-hearted, even frivolous, moments. "Blow" is also a metaphor for 30 years of American culture, so the innocence of the 60s, the decadence of the 70s, and the harshness of the 80s are all filtered through George. Furthermore, the film finally becomes a family-centred love-story, specifically about what happens when someone who can't afford to care about anyone finally discovers love. Jung, by the way, will be in jail until 2014.
Even though there are one too many scenes of Jung's swift, glittering rise to success, most of them bristle with energy due to, firstly, Demme's decision to pack them with characters, information, and ideas and, secondly, the performances. Depp, an actor of terrific intelligence, insight and range, easily transforms himself from peppy youngster to sad, shambling failure, while Penélope Cruz (as George's high-living wife) is properly demanding and hysterical. As layered and electrifying as "Traffic".
Visit the official "Blow" website.