Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Can a misguided adult start afresh with a new set of values and priorities? This ambitious drama, directed by one of France's most resourceful filmmakers, explores that crucial question in depth and detail.
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Cheung gives a revelatory performance.
  3. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    A superb effort by a first-rank director, and manna from heaven for Cheung fans.
  4. 100
    Cheung is one of the finest actresses working today, an expressive, lustrous beauty capable of plumbing a boundless range of emotional hues. This is the greatest performance she's given to date.
  5. 91
    Beautifully shot and cut, written with a visceral aversion to cliche, deftly skirting sentimentality, sensationalism and simplicity, it continually surprises, engages and satisfies. For a small, unheralded film, it's a knockout.
  6. One of the most emotionally honest movies about drug addiction ever made.
  7. 88
    Emily is played by Maggie Cheung with such intense desperation that she won the best actress award at Cannes 2004.
  8. Clean, director Olivier Assayas' spellbinding study of a junkie trying to get her life in order so she can reclaim custody of her child, avoids the pitfalls, brilliantly.
  9. 83
    Nolte brings this movie a piece of his heart, and grants us peace.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. ChadS.
    Apr 22, 2007
    "Clean" might be a film in code about the most infamous of all rock-and-roll widows, but I hope not, since Allison Anders' "Sugar Town" had already done a fine job of eviscerating(again, in code) this woman, who nevertheless, love her or hate her, arguably served the important and underrated function of muse for the troubled drug-addled musician. Emily Wang(Maggie Cheung) is also universally hated by the music industry for fueling her husband's appetite for poison, but like her real-life counterpart, she played a part in her husband's artistic triumphs by incident; by just simply being there(without Love in Kurt Cobain's life, maybe he might've simply been a Black Francis-wanna-be). The fact that Emily is Chinese makes her unpopularity complicated since the hatred she's encumbered with might be a two-fold attack(the public's distaste for Emily's heroin addiction could be a cover-up for the real issue at hand; she's Asian), which the filmmaker smartly leaves to our imagination; the only mention about Emily's ethnicity comes from her uncle. "Clean" elects to keep Emily's withdrawal from heroin largely off-screen(leave the writhing in agony to Darin Aronofsky); the film is more concerned with her redemption. A filmmaker with a heavy hand would demonstrate a recovering addict's unfitness to be a parent by staging a relapse. What this director does is brilliant; he casts doubt about Emily's ability to exercise sound parental judgment by the mode of transportation she supplies for her son. "Clean", led by Cheung's glamorous, yet somehow gritty performance, has us rooting for her every step of the way to a recovering junkie's nirvana. Full Review »
  2. MarcK.
    Jul 30, 2006
    Too bad this wasn't released in America until 2006, and too bad when it was released, it came and went. This is one of the best 2006 releases in America. Maggie Cheung clearly deserved the Best Actress award at Cannes for this performance. While she's the reason to see this movie, the plot is also well-done, and is a more positive piece than most of the films in this genre. Full Review »
  3. MauraC.
    Jul 7, 2006
    Interesting and meditative movie. Visually very beautiful, but could have used a little more depth when it came to the characters. The story was overall fairly touching, but sometimes seemed a bit meandering and pointless. Okay movie that could have used some more work to make it great. Full Review »