Blow is an Absolutely Depressing Film That is Directed With Excellence.
"A depressing film executed perfectly"
Overall rating: 8.1/10
Script: Blow is drug-crime classic and well known for having drug tycoon Pablo Escobar as one of the characters. The screenplay is an adaptation from a book on George Jung, the protagonist.
If you look at the screenplay from where it starts- George meeting Barbara-his first girlfriend and ending at George in prison for 60 years: It's over 2 decades. You feel like you are in complete sync at all times. It's a brilliant screenplay.
I like Blow's screenplay for its smooth transition. It travels through the 20 year timeframe effortlessly.
The beauty of the script is that it's adapted to do more than tell a story. Blow is not a movie, it's a feeling. A feeling of success that is followed by failure. And all this while, you could have sensed the failure coming. That is if Jung was alert.
The script is brilliant in emoting and creating a character larger-than-life and then dismal in Jung.
Acting & Dialogue: Johnny Depp is brilliant. He is in the league of Marlon Brando, Amitabh Bahcchan, Rajnikanth- all great actors in the world. Depp's scene where he has a short poetry monologue-while defending himself in court- is downright hilarious.
The actors playing Diego and Pablo Escobar are magnificent in their Spanish and South American portrayals.
Johnny Depp is one of the greatest actors. Why?
He can say what he wants without uttering a single word.
Depp's brilliance lies in the subtlety of representing Jung on screen. His facial expressions are of despair rather than slyness. This portrayal will acquit Jung in your eyes. You feel Jung committed a crime but you sympathisize for him.
Direction: I laud the director for taking a realistic approach for Blow. The drug dealing is not glorified. Most of the cocaine snorting scenes are Off Screen. In many ways, Blow is an educational film on showing consequences of crime. It starts off as an exciting drug frollicking and money-making entertainer. You get a vibe of Wolf of Wall Street if you see Blow today. And just like Wolf of Wall Street, the film turns into a intervention for the protagonist to change which he doesn't.
Best Dialogue? "Your dream failed because you had the wrong dream" -when Diego tells Depp the reason he failed in smuggling weed.
Depp does put a smile to your face by saying if all the prison time was worth it in the end- he says yes, he had ambition to be more than his talent allowed and he succeeded.
This was director Ted Jemme last film to be released when he was alive. Jemme was a great director known for his Life (1999) & Monument Avenue (1998).Jemme's unique style of film making which involves focus on expressions and not actions- like the Godfather movies.
Jemme will be greatly missed. Jemme has a unique style like Tarantino & Wes Anderson where you watch the film and you can name the director without knowing.
If Tarantino is known for his extreme violence and long, hilarious dialogues, Jemme is known for his poker-face humorous dialogues & and before-after visuals. In Blow, the scene where Jung meets Escobar and demands Diego as the partner is followed by Escobar accepting his demand. The acceptance isn't obvious, it's shown through the visuals (before-after).
What's best in direction in the film? The fast-forward montage of Depp meeting bigshots from Hollywood to sell coke. It's shown as a fast forward. You may wonder why but it becomes clear in the third act. The reason is to not glorify but set up the script for a educational ending.
Overall Comments: Blow is a bold film - not for the visuals of mountains of money or the smuggling of cocaine in briefcases- but for its attempt to tell the truth. The final scene where Johnny Depp's been in jail for decades and hallucinates that his daughter Kristina's come to visit him- is a depressing but true face of drug dealing. If you get caught, you can be used and be behind bars for years.
Facts of the film: Nick Cassevetes adapted the film from a book on George Jung. The character Diego is also based on a real life person.
George Jung was a real person and his photo is shown at the end of the film.
Going by the Netflix show on everyone's mind right now- Narcos, Blow was ahead of its time. It was the first Hollywood film to have Pablo Escobar as a character. Entourage had a fictional film Medellin in its series which was on Vincent Chase playing Escobar. But other than that, we sadly didn't know much about Escobar on reel before Blow and now Narcos.
Thanks to Blow, we now know how Cocaine was introduced to Hollywood and became the next big thing. It's incredible that such a dangerous drug was being sold by a simple group of people. It's one of life's mysteries and Blow is a must watch.
Personal note: Watch this film with a group of friends but be mature enough to not attempt to imitate. Drug dealing is bad and risky.