Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that drug abuse permeates this downbeat drama about people in seemingly hopeless descents. As a final descent into degradation one girl performs in a grotesque lesbian stage-sodomy act to continue getting her heroin -- the "edited version" only cuts out a few microseconds of this. Both versions of this film have enough language, explicit sex, violence, blood, and nudity (included female full-frontal) to merit an R. Both versions try with hypnotic imagery and music to capture both the allure and the insidious damage of intoxicants.
Brief, full-frontal female nudity (in some versions). One character is sexually active with her therapist, her boyfriend, and her pusher. In the unrated version she ultimately descends into full-blown prostitution and performs degrading sex acts -- which aren't shown in clear detail, but you get the idea --- with other women before a live audience. Another couple seen naked having intercourse in profile.
Shootings, some at close range. Jailhouse beatings. A violent fantasy about stabbing a character through the hand with a fork. One character's arm develops ghastly, oozing wounds from his IV drug-use needle injections. Another is strapped, force-fed, and electrocuted in a hellish medical environment.
Frequent use of the F-word/MF-word, the S-word, "bitch," and "ass."
Principal characters are all doomed addicts and drug users, and their ethnicity and circumstances seem to cut across all genders and ages -- it could happen to anyone, is the implicit message. Nobody here makes a move to save themselves either, though their personal goals are empowerment, not the inevitable self-destruction. Ironically, drug dealer-addict Harry disapproves (quite rightfully) his mother taking diet pills.
One character's mad devotion to a TV game show is key to the plot, though the show is not real.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Heroin use, cigarette smoking, and abuse of diet pills (amphetamines) are the central subject. Quick, punchy editing, macrophotography, and rhythmic cuts try to convey the jittery exhilaration of the narcotics. It's hardly intended as a favorable portrayal, of course.