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Clean and Sober Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 June 2004

Clean And Sober

Warner Home Video
MPAA rating: R
starring: Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman, M. Emmet Walsh
release year: 1988
film rating: Three and a half stars
sound/picture: Three and a half stars
reviewed by: Bill Warren

'Clean and Sober' is a very good, very dark look at an addict/alcoholic struggling with sobriety. Although the movie was made 17 years ago, it doesn't seem dated; the dynamics of substance abuse seem to be much the same today.

Director Glenn Gordon Caron makes shrewd use of Michael Keaton's trademark smart-ass persona, casting him here as hot-shot real estate salesman Daryl Poynter, who checks into a rehab program to hide from some legal problems. Daryl initially supposes that he's only pretending to be a cokehead and a drinker, but as his life continues to spin out of control, it gradually dawns on him that he really does need help. The material could easily be preachy, predictable or just plain TV-movie dull, but Tod Carroll's knowing script and Caron's careful direction make 'Clean and Sober' compelling and real. Keaton is terrific, exercising restraint as the self-deluded, destructive Daryl. The supporting cast is equally admirable, with M. Emmet Walsh a standout as the AA veteran who offers to be Daryl's sponsor. Kathy Baker makes emotional desolation look sexy as one of Daryl's fellow hospital inmates and Morgan Freeman displays his usual unimpeachable authority as the detox program director.

The somber-hued cinematography by Jan Kiesser is faithfully served by the DVD, with shadows and brown tones well represented in a way that makes the glimpses of rich colors even more effective. The sound mix is very impressive, with a great mix of an airplane takeoff, radio broadcast and ambient noise in Chapter 4 and a delicacy that makes even the flutter of paper in Chapter 16 seem ominous. In Chapter 20, a deejay-booth play of 'My Boyfriend's Back' may be a little too good--it's up front with the dialogue, instead of being talked over--but the volume levels out for 'Since I Fell for You' in Chapter 21.

Technical aspects aside, 'Clean and Sober' is an intelligent, involving film that deserves to be seen.

more details
sound format:
Dolby Surround
aspect ratio(s):
1:3:3 (modified from original format)
special features: English Closed Captioning; Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 36-inch Sony XBR

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