release year: 2001
viewing setting: home DVD, 6/13/2003
synopsis: A kid with a bad childhood moves to California, starts dealing pot, and ends up as the biggest cocaine distributor in the country before having a big-time downfall. Based on a true story.
impressions: This was pretty good, if a bit sad at the end. When George starts out, he's just a kid who spots a market and totally takes advantage of it. Things are happy and fun for a while. As time goes on, he expands to more profitable drugs (at one point, he claims to have a hand in 85% of the U.S. cocaine market) but also ends up attracting more attention, which is ultimately his downfall. This movie reminded me a lot of Boogie Nights, just with a different vice. The whole downfall angle was the same, and you can't help but feel bad for the guy, despite everything he's done (and done wrong.) I suspect that the main idea here is that, despite all of his money and other success, George is at heart just a normal, boring guy who never accomplished anything that lasted - and had nothing left after everyone he knew backstabbed him.
acting: Outstanding work as usual by Johnny Depp - I found myself feeling sorry for his character no matter how much he screwed up. Paul Reubens was good as a flamboyant hairdresser/distributor, and Jordi Molla as a two-faced Colombian dealer. Penelope Cruz made a very convincing psychotic wife. Ray Liotta did a good job as George's father, who is proud of his son yet at the same time doesn't like what he's doing. Rachel Griffiths portrayed George's very unlikeable mother, who was no angel and certainly had no right to be judgemental of her son.
final word: Good downward-spiral drama, worth seeing.
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