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Safdie Brothers return with drug drama Heaven Knows What


Having already enjoyed a retrospective of their short but eventful careers as filmmakers, Ben Safdie and Joshua Safdie mine a distinct domain within the American independent landscape. Heaven Knows What, the latest film from the brothers adapts a memoir of former homeless junkie Arielle Holmes who also appears as herself in this edgy take on urban despair, love and addiction. Accent delivers the DVD to Australian and New Zealand territories on September 23.

Harley is caught between two boyfriends, Mike, a drug dealer and Ilya who would do anything for her. But Harley is more dependent on heroin. Her daily hustle of finding couches to crash the night and convenience stores to shoplift contrasts the highs with a journey of inevitable self-exile. So when Harley proposes Ilya prove his love by slashing her wrists the request is honoured without fear or hesitation. These are the hipster streets of New York minus the entitled characters.

The Safdies (Daddy Longlegs) seamlessly blend fiction, formalism and raw vérité as they follow Ilya through the streets of New York. The film-which world-premiered at Venice (where it won the CICAE award) and subsequently played NYFF, Toronto and SXSW among other prestigious festivals-co-stars Caleb Landry-Jones (X-Men: First Class, Byzantium) and also features street legend Buddy Duress and gore rap phenom Necro.

Scott Tobias in the Dissolve writes "Heaven Knows What isn't interested in merely exploring the world of New York City addicts. It wants to make their experiences felt, with the dissonant, amp-cracking roar of a punk anthem."

Melissa Anderson in The Village Voice writes "In the thinly veiled version of her life that appears onscreen, the actress unforgettably shows the deadening toll of always being on the move, only to return to the exact same place."