Jerry McGlothlin’s review published on Letterboxd:
There can be no love between two people when drug have usurped their hearts and their minds. Pacino and Winn turn in committed breakout performances in the lead roles, and technically, the film is more than competent, with direction and cinematography that serve the story well. What I found to be personally troubling with a story like The Panic at Needle Park is precisely what makes it work: its gritty realism and the unrelenting misery exuded in every frame.
I have known many, many people in my life who struggle with addiction—many of them close to me—and I, personally, came very close to being one of them. Thankfully I was lucky enough to escape before this life was able to trap me in its ineluctable clutches, and I have known a small handful of people who have successfully been able to kick their addictions and are in recovery now, but most are not as lucky. Most, like Bobby and Helen, are bound to slip back down deeper and deeper into those clutches until eventually, disaster strikes. Whether it be prison or death, addiction usually won’t end well. And knowing this, I found it damn-near impossible to watch this film. While the time and place may’ve now become a capsule of history, the subject is still alive, unfortunately. I’m sure I’m not alone, but this film was not telling/showing me anything I haven’t already seen and know all too painfully well. So, although it is an important work and one that should probably be seen by most, it is not one I can ever see myself revisiting, and it was painful to watch… but I guess that was the point all along.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please seek help—it could save your or someone you love’s life.