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Northwest Junkie Pranksters
on January 15, 2002
I am always surprised at how many people have not heard of this film. Although released back in 1989, this is definitely one of Van Sant's best films. This flick takes you into the day to day routine of Bob (played by Matt Dillon) and his melancholic and nomadic band of junkies who roam around the Pacific Northwest raiding pharmacies and hospital drug cabinets in search of Valium, Dilaudid and other narcotic goodies to pop, shoot and snort.
The mood of this film is generally very dysphoric however some comic relief is added throughout in the dialogue and 'trippy' visual imagery. Some of the pranks they pull on the detective they are eluding are also pretty humorous.
The movie definitely captures the 70's era well with its acting, dialogue and wardrobe. Superb acting by Dillon as the intimacy phobic, restless and highly superstitious ringleader, Kelly Lynch as his less than satisfied girlfriend, James LeGros as simpleminded Rick, and Heather Graham as the young ditzy neophyte who literally goes overboard trying hard fit into this group of merry prankster junkies.
This movie is a creative little exploration into the day to day routine and psyche of the junkie, so if you can't handle the portrayal of this reality, then this is another movie that isn't for you. Interestingly, William Burroughs plays a short role as a junkie priest, adding some penetrating social commentary towards the end.