Friday, June 15, 2007
"Cocaine Angel," the much-lauded feature film debut of director Michael Tully, written by (Jacksonville’s own) Damian Lahey, who also performs the lead role, was screened at MOCA Jacksonville, Wednesday night. The film had its U.S. premier at SXSW, and has been called a “minor masterpiece” by Indiewire.
Despite the pouring rain, there was standing-room-only in the museum’s small auditorium. The film is a gossamer study of a week in the life of a derelict cokehead, Scott (Lahey). From his crack-whore girlfriend, Mary, to the daughter who is always thrilled to see him, it strives to be a Chekhovian study and falls just short.
It is a glimpse into the lives of people generally discounted as they walk down the street–though limping along with a bandaged, unshod foot and a fifth of whisky generally doesn’t do too much to inspire interest beyond disgust. Shot through a haze that captures the heat and grimness of a Jacksonville summer, heightening the boredom, poverty, and squalor in which Scott et. al. live.
Unlike other drug tales, there is no glamour or beauty to the lives Scott and Mary lead. But there is unexpected beauty in the story, when Scott, high and in need of reassurance talks to himself in the mirror, then kisses it twice, or when after recounting how she scored some cash and ended up with cigarette burns in her ass, Mary says. “Nah, it kinda’ tickled, I was high.”
The drama–inserted for texture and good measure–is where the film falters. It becomes a little too melodramatic and tedious towards the end–presented by people the viewer really has no reason to care about. Ultimately the best part of the film, and the reason to see it, is Lahey’s performance as a decent–along the line of, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king–cokehead, struggling not towards redemption, but his next fix.
Posted by madeleine at Friday, June 15, 2007