Review: Heaven Knows What

Title: Heaven Know What
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Ben & Joshua Safdie
Starring: Arielle Holmes, Caleb Landry Jones, Necro
Runtime: 1 hr 34 mins

What It Is: Based on a soon-to-be published memoir entitled “Mad Love in New York City” written by Arielle Holmes this is an auto-biographical based narrative about a homeless heroin addict named Harley (played by Holmes) and her tumultuous relationship with fellow vagabond boyfriend Ilya (Landry-Jones). Meanwhile her other close friend, street dealer Mike (Buddy Duress) is attempting to help Harley get her life together by taking her away from Ilya for good. As the memoirs title indicates that will prove more difficult then one might imagine for Mike. All the while Harley deals with a addiction and tries to find ways to feed it, by any means necessary.

What We Think: It is so unflinching in it’s portrayal of life as a derelict. Given it’s source material and that Arielle Holmes essentially plays herself it’s no wonder why. This is a film that will haunt, forever and until the end times even further. Holmes gives a performance that sucks you in to the reality. She’s a marvel on the screen. Caleb Landry-Jones offers up some good work as well. Having said all of that it’s the Safdie brothers camera that is the true superstar. With a slight hand they are the reason this film feels more like a documentary and not a narrative. All the bit players inhabit their space well and bring to the table a worthwhile portrait of enablers at the fullest.

Our Grade: A, What a startling piece of cinema this is. If you can get through this movie it’s well worth a watch and I’m going to start this portion of the review with an immediate recommend. As I earlier stated however you are probably not going to be able to finish this. It’s ambiguous ending may leave you with more questions, but that’s kind of the beauty of it. It’s a codependent master stroke. It needs you and you need it, much in the way it’s drug crossed lovers need each other and the needle.

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