Heaven Knows What
With an opening and close carried by an absorbing score that echoes the mystery and acclaim of 70s horror Suspiria, Heaven Knows What sets the stage for a unique piece of street theatre.
Young heroin addict Harley (Arielle Holmes) is surviving both a torrid relationship with her boyfriend Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones) and a consuming addiction that sees her barely existing on the streets of New York. What follows is a series of uncomfortable sequences as she engages any means necessary to fulfil the urges of a relentless addict suffering from an unattainable love. Be it the general grime the cast is coated in, the grim reality of the lengths they will go to to score or the overarching hopelessness of everyone’s situation, Heaven Knows What cuts to the core in a divisive cinematic experience.
It is a good day for independent cinema when a new film can inject the genre with creative flare, and directors Josh and Bennie Safdie have done just that, blending cinéma vérité with subtle surrealism heightened by disorienting electronic music. With material based on the unpublished memoirs of Holmes, writers Ronald Bronstein and Joshua Safdie have succeeded in producing a unique tale around a topic much explored; beyond the inexorable effects of addiction they depict normal issues exploded by circumstance. There is something to be said for discovering unadulterated talent: with Arielle Holmes the Safdie brothers have followed in director Larry Clark’s footsteps (with his acclaimed Kids), preserving the freshness of a story through a naturalistic cast.
It’s a film that requires a level of interaction from its audience. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the desperate shouting and chaotic nature that compromises the life of an addict in New York, but if viewers succeed in seeing the wood through the trees they will find a delicate and engaging story of hopeless love.
Heaven Knows What is released nationwide on 29th April 2016.
Watch the trailer for Heaven Knows What here: