BLOW directed by Ted Demme, written by David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes from the book by Bruce Porter, produced by Demme, Denis Leary and Joel Stillerman, with Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Paul Reubens, Franka Potente, Rachel Griffiths and Ray Liotta. 124 minutes. A New Line Pictures production. An Alliance release. Opens Friday (April 6). For venues and times see First-Run Movies, page 97. Rating: NN
the first thing wrong with Blow is that we know what's coming. It sets itself up as a flashback picture with a voice-over narration -- Depp announces himself as "Federal Prisoner xxxxx," so we can pretty much tell that he's going to wind up in the slammer. And, as the picture's called Blow, I'm guessing that maybe a drug deal's going to go bad. Unlike Rounders or Casino, the voice-over isn't filling us in on information that can't be shown or facts we need for following the narrative.
I suspect the filmmakers added the VO late, when they realized that Depp's character, George Jung, is one of his more intriguingly remote and unlikeable characters. The narration was needed to give the film the illusion of a point of view.
Ted Demme, who directed The Ref and Beautiful Girls, is a better filmmaker than this.
Blow is a cautionary tale. The message? Either "Don't become a drug dealer" or "Don't marry a mercenary latina cokehead." Or possibly both.
The story is familiar -- poor boy discovers drug culture, learns very quickly that there's a lot of money to be made, and then goes wildly out of control -- but Oliver Stone didn't write this one and Brian DePalma didn't direct it. Instead of Pacino with a machine gun in each hand and his face buried in a mountain of coke, we get a truly horrifying tour of 70s hair, most of it parked on Depp's head. He manages, in the course of the film, to hit the hairstyle of every member of Three Dog Night circa 1972.
Trivia note: Depp and Rachel Griffiths may set a new record for mother-son acting age difference. Griffiths, Oscar-nominated for Hilary And Jackie, is five years younger than Depp, who plays her son.JOHN HARKNESS