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The self-destructive artist goes on a trip in Asthma


Written and directed by Jake Hoffman, son of Dustin, Asthma out through Feature Films April 20 stares back at the heady days of New York pre-gentrification with longing and through the eyes of a long-haired self-entitled wannabe artist and failed suicide Gus (Benedict Samuel). The film takes its title from the condition he gets when he goes through withdrawals. Not only does Gus, with miserablist romanticism pine for grunge, sleaze and authenticity of the era of CBGB, The Ramones and the Rolling Stones he tries to live it. Of course he produces no art and has no heroin.

He steals a Rolls Royce and soon comes across Ruby (Krysten Ritter), a tattoo artist who keeps turning down his advances. She is off to the country where she will join friends at a retreat with an ex indie-rocker turned spiritual guru played by Goran Visnjic. So begins a drug-fueled joyride to a hippie community and the bedside of Gus' gravely ill mother all the while fighting and possibly falling in love.

Gus it becomes clear is a trust fund baby trying to play the beautiful loser disconnected from his time. He's out on a limb and close to out of his mind. An Iggy Pop cameo inside a prison serves to undermine his sanity. Nick Nolte who voices his inner werewolf might seem to obliterate it.

In an interview with Vice Magazine Hoffman acknowledged the contradictory nature of rock 'n' roll as one of the crucial themes of the movie. "I wanted to explore [sic] the concept of happiness growing from a sad seed, and I felt rock 'n roll was an appropriate microcosm," he said. "It's fun and rebellious but actually derived from the blues."

Sherilyn Connolly writing at the Village Voice calls Asthma "a fascinating character study."

In Slant Magazine Chuck Bown notes, "the mood is heightened by the sexy cinematography, which emits a memorable noir heat."

Asthma will be available on DVD and digital.