[Sidebar] April 5 - 12, 2001
[Movie Reviews]
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[Blow] An adept Ted Demme finesses this screen adaptation of Bruce Porter's nonfiction book so that it doesn't live up to its self-defeating name. Johnny Depp plays George Jung, the local Weymouth native who used savvy and casual smirks to elbow his way into the vortex of the biggest Colombian cocaine ring. Jung becomes famed padrone Pablo Escobar's gringo front man, supplying American noses with enough candy to keep them running. Eventually, Jung starts running himself, from the feds as greed and betrayal keep him two-stepping in and out of prison.

As he crams more coke up his nostrils -- and more cash into his closet -- Jung's cars get faster, his aviator sunglasses frames get flashier, and his women get skinnier. It all peaks with playgirl wife Mirtha, the multi-talented Penélope Cruz, whose depth mirrors the plunging necklines she models for Ralph Lauren.

At its peak, Blow is an exhilarating ride. But as the noses start bleeding, "friends" defect, and the party's busted, the film crashes along with its unlikely heroes. Saccharine home-life scenes, one-dimensional cash-crazy women, and Depp's effortful attempts to convey the turmoil of his relationship with his estranged daughter at times turn the film into Traffic cut with cheese. Blow ends soberly, and the audience is left looking for another line. At the Hoyts Providence 16, Opera House, and Showcase cinemas.
-- Nina Willdorf

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