How nice that the Safdie brothers returned to the streets of New York with their latest film, the nerve-racking crime-thriller Uncut Gems. With that film in mind, we'll screen their stylish, grim drama Heaven Knows What (IFFR 2015) on Wednesday, 6 May, about the junkie subculture of the Upper West Side.
Welcome to the restless world of Harley, heroin junkie in contemporary New York. Entangled in the gloomy romance of her destructive relationship with Ilja, she seeks security from fellow addict Mike.
Filmed in raw cinéma-vérité style and heavily incited by electronic music from Tangerine Dream and Isao Tomita's beautiful adaptation of Debussy's Claire de lune No. 3, the film puts you in the middle of her life. Directors Josh and Benny Safdie create tableaux vivants about hunger and heroin gurus, which let you immerse yourself in the daily rhythm of junkies who tenderly meddle in each other's well-being, and then are mercilessly selfish, stuck in irritated, drugged non conversation.
Heaven Knows What is based on the experiences of Arielle Holmes, who herself impressively interprets Harley and whom you may recognize from Andrea Arnold's American Honey. The Safdie brothers met her while working on Uncut Gems and encouraged her to write her memoirs. Her never-published Mad Love in New York City then formed the starting point for this film.
Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, 2014, USA/France, 94', English spoken