peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2020 10 24 CleanAndSober

Clean and Sober

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A jag from Big along Roger Ebert's list of the best movies of 1988. They don't make them like this any more. The draw was Michael Keaton, who I haven't seen much but has been brilliant in a few things like Birdman. Here he's outdone by a smouldering Kathy Baker. She's the most deeply drawn of the leads — a working-class girl who never quite got through the rites of post-high school adulthood, just like a Springsteen song. (The whole thing is east-coast hard luck.) Of course the forces of Hollywood mean that she ends up in Keaton's bed, which is disappointing as it signals a capitulation worse than getting back on the gear; no more crappy men Kathy! Morgan Freeman has a dry and flat run for Shawshank. The plot goes as addiction journeys must until it ties itself up in knots in trying to find a conclusion that's not cliched. Overall it lacks any sense of the rhythm of need, of percussion. At no stage did I really sympathise with Keaton's predicament, probably because the world was better while he was off the streets and not hustling commercial real estate.

Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars. Janet Maslin just summarised it.