Heaven Knows What ★★★½

In case any of you have been craving a demystifying exposé of the world of on-the-street drug addiction, Josh and Benny Safdie have your back. Their latest release, Heaven Knows What, is drawn from the pages of Arielle Holmes' unpublished memoir, stars Arielle Holmes and, unsurprisingly, rings absolutely and utterly true.

Given all that, you can take it as read that, this is a film that is going to be trying for some. The Safdies and their star don't pull punches. Heaven Knows What goes for visceral over stylistic, honest over clever. There's very little directorial bravado here; this isn't heroin chic - it's just heroin. Messy, compulsive, rambling heroin.

It is all undeniably gruelling and, if you're able to buy into this obsessive, next-hit-myopic existence, this tumbling film will reward. Holmes' all-in performance will make well-sure of that. But those prone to distancing themselves from random, over-amped street altercations (and there will be many) will probably want to do the same here.

Heaven Knows What opens up a destitute world and invites us to peer inside with little expectation of connection. There's no emotional payoff. Only the abyss.

Sometimes cinema can be too real.

Michael liked this review