Cocaine Angel

2007, Movie, NR, 75 mins

Review

COCAINE ANGEL
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Scrappy and defiantly deglamorized, this chronicle of a couple of long, useless days in the life of a down-and-out coke addict oozes miserable authenticity without giving you a reason to care.
An unshaven wreck who was once a middle-class husband and father, Scott (Damian Lahey, who also wrote the screenplay) wakes up in his filthy room with an infected foot. His girlfriend Mary (Kelly Forester) is nowhere to be found, and he's fired as soon as he gets to work. Scott is, after all, standing in front of his boss with one foot wrapped in toilet paper (it's too swollen to fit into a shoe) and generally looking like hell — and goes searching for Mary, after a brief stop to give Emily (Brenda Benfield) grief about her new boyfriend. Mary, meanwhile, wants to get to Texas for her little girl's birthday, despite the fact that neither her own mother nor her ex-husband wants her anywhere near the child. Mary and Scott connect at a bar and, between drinking and looking for drugs, try to figure out how to make the trip to Texas. They cross paths with various alcohol and drug abusers, crash briefly with wretched junkie Hurricane Mike (Richard Dawson) and his pregnant wife (Jamie Dawson), pass out, wake up blurry and sick, and then do it again.
Lahey's screenplay keeps Scott at the center of the action for most of the film's 75-minute running time, and his is an admirably unsparing performance: a waste case who has ruined his own life and taints those of everyone with whom he comes into contact. That said, there's nothing compelling about watching Scott's spiral into whatever lies lower than the gutter: He's a selfish, rude, self-destructive and abusive junkie who spends a lot of time giving himself self-deluded pep talks in various sordid bathroom mirrors, which is true-to-life but depressingly uninteresting. The supporting cast is equally convincing and unlikable, which, again, is the point. Director Michael Tully, who coproduced the film with Lahey, makes good use of the film's depressing Jacksonville, Florida, locations, and M. Shawn Dewallen's photography is appropriately mucky. COCAINE ANGEL may be a fine counterpoint to glammy cocaine-scare films like LESS THAN ZERO (1987) and BLOW (2001), but it comes on so strong it risks being dismissed along with the "this is your brain on drugs" school of dope-scare PSAs. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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