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A young heroin addict roams the streets of New York to panhandle and get her next fix, while her unstable boyfriend drifts in and out of her life at random.

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Heaven Knows What movie full length review - Gritty tale of real-life heroin addict is compelling but you'll be glad it's over at film's end

If you are interested in the life of heroin addicts, Heaven Knows What should be for you.

Brother directors, Ben and Joshua Safdie, discovered the film's star, Arielle Holmes, a heroin addict, panhandling on the streets and encouraged her to write her life's story down on paper. Holmes along with screen writing partner, Ronald Bronstein, wrote the script and Holmes stars as Harley, the film's protagonist. Bronstein has a supporting role as Skully who urges Harley to break up with her boyfriend Ilya, after Harley slits her wrists at Ilya's behest (he declares that he has no interest in dating her anymore).

Shot in documentary style, the plot is rather lugubrious and has an unrelenting texture. In other words, this ain't easy to watch! We follow Harley after she shacks up with Mike, another addict and they spend time attempting to obtain money to support their habits (the usual means include of course panhandling, shoplifting and stealing). Mike gets into a fight with Ilya in Central Park and Ilya stabs him with a makeshift weapon but soon afterward Harley tells Mike that she's still crazy about Ilya.

After Harley saves Ilya from an overdose, they decide to take a bus to Florida but Ilya abandons her on the way down and ends up consumed by a fire inside a vacant house.

Nothing very much dramatic occurs at the denouement: Harley returns to NYC and watches Mike inside a fast food restaurant, as he boasts to his friends.

There's not much more to tell here. The Safdies have done well here in bringing us Holmes' gritty narrative. But after a while, the actions of the principals mimic one another to the point where we're kind of happy it's all over. Holmes must be commended for overcoming her heroin addiction and now trying to break into the movie industry (probably harder to do than overcoming a heroin addiction!). For her next role, I'd like to see Holmes take a role that doesn't involve drugs. Then we'll see if she can really act instead of just playing herself!