Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A desperate woman with a drug problem seeks to put her life in order to regain contact with her little boy.
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. 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.
  3. 88
    Emily is played by Maggie Cheung with such intense desperation that she won the best actress award at Cannes 2004.
  4. The rough, exposed emotional candor of Cheung's singing voice carries into her performance.
  5. 75
    Cheung and Nick Nolte seem unlikely co-stars, but co-star they do in Clean, giving gritty performances under the direction of Frenchman Olivier Assayas.
  6. 70
    It's the moral journey of Nolte's character that is the real story in Clean, but Assayas instead focuses on the manipulative habits of an addict, resulting in a mannered study of narcissism and self-pity.
  7. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Dramatically pallid and unconvincing. Despite being written for her, the director's "Irma Vep" muse Maggie Cheung seems oddly miscast here and is ill-served by an emotionally underpowered screenplay that rarely gets beneath the surface of the character's problems.

See all 28 Critic Reviews

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. Collapse
  2. BertH.
    Jun 4, 2006
    Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte were both brilliant. An uplifting story of redemption and of just not giving up.
  3. 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. Expand
  4. MauriceF.
    Apr 24, 2006
    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. And not your average divorce gift: Clean's writer-director Olivier Assayas created the role of recovering rock-world druggie Emily Wang for his ex-wife, art-house/action-pic royalty Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love). But it's not so much a movie in three acts as three movies stuffed into a single casing, and often showing the strain. It a complex but cold tale. Expand
  5. 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. Expand
  6. JeremyG.
    May 30, 2006
    A real snoozer. Most of director Assayas' films suffer from languorous pacing and this is no exception. Poorly written and directed, the film features a bland performance by all the leads, except for Nick Nolte and Beatrice Dalle, who are the only two who make an impression. Full of cliches about drug-addicted musicians and the people who love and loathe them. The only redeeming aspects of this are the performances of Nolte and Dalle, and a decent soundtrack, which kept us from falling asleep. Expand

See all 7 User Reviews