I can’t deny this: Assayas knows where to stick the camera. His movies always look terrific. And they usually take place in an interesting corner of the world – a strange spot where there ought to be a great movie going on. And then…..the movie usually falls flat. Clean is no exception.
One can imagine the origin from reading the bio of any mid-level rock musician. Dies in early 40s trying to host a come back, leaves girlfriend and child behind.
What follows is the mundane specifics of cleaning up. Cleaning up the retrospective album contracts, figuring out where the kid goes, getting off heroin. Maggie Cheung is an interesting choice for the lead. As is Nick Nolte as the sympathetic yet firm “father-in-law.” Both go for a less-is-more approach, so most of the scenes just involve them staring off into space.
Location photography of Paris, London and Nowhere, Canada are top notch. As is the open-to-your-interpretation presentation of, what I say, is pretty shitty music.