The Panic in Needle Park

The Panic in Needle Park ★★★★

This was a very hard film to watch. But then hard drug addiction isn't pretty, or sexy, or clever. So we see Al Pacino in only his second film appearance pull cute Kitty Winn into a downward spiral where she whores to score, where they only live for their next hit of smack. There's no redemption, no rehabilitation, no hope for them.

Needle Park is a hotbed of lowlifes, junkies, and the walking dead, those for whom heroin is the only deity. The subtle mistress whose glow makes you lie, cheat, steal, and turn your life to the most miserable existence. Into this hellhole Bobby and Helen skirt around each other, shoot up, and eventually become pale and sickly shadows of themselves.

There are real shots of addicts shooting up (apparently they were given cash for their dope if they let the cameras see them doing the grisly act in close-up). There's no music, which gives this film a documentary feel, and a washed out glow that gives a sense of hopelessness. Bobby and Helen are fucked-up lovers, their smiles and giggles at the start turning into an ache they can never reach, an itch they can never scratch.

There's nothing glamorous about drug addiction. Forget 'Pulp Fiction' and its attempt to make such things cool. This is far more realistic, and devastating with it. Watch Pacino's nodding and dead eyes. That's serious method acting, and its terrifying.

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