Blow ★★★½

The true story of man desperate to avoid poverty and how he became a major part of the 70s drug scene. It seems appropriate that I finally see this now with films like American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street being released. I say this because like those films, Blow feels it owes a huge debt to Goodfellas. The film's style is clearly based on that mob masterpiece in everything from pace, to cinematography, to soundtrack, to structure. The film even has Goodfellas protagonist Ray Liotta in a prominent role. There's nothing wrong with emulating Goodfellas, but I feel director Ted Demme does little to actually add to the proceedings so much as he does copy Goodfellas. In fact the obvious emulation becomes a problem since the comparison highlights Blow's shortcomings. The film flashes by too quickly so very little has any real resonance. I also never really felt like I got to know the characters that well and I never felt very immersed in the world.

I don't want to come down on this film too harshly because I did enjoy it. Johnny Depp gives a very strong performance. He makes George a more sympathetic character than we usually see in films like this and it's nice to see him play such a subtle character. Ray Liotta is also great as Depp's father and their relationship is one of the film's highlights. The film is also competently made and I will give Demme credit for putting together some good scenes. And while the ending does become very sentimental, I have to admit it worked for me. Overall, I like Blow, but it feels to much like Scorsese-lite.