Clean (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

Clean (2005)



Critic Consensus: In one of her best roles, Cheung gives a believable and arresting performance as a recovering addict.

Movie Info

A woman throws herself into a last-ditch struggle to conquer her demons in this gritty drama from director Olivier Assayas. Lee Hauser (James Johnston) is a faded rock star who lives with his wife, Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung), the former host of a European music video show, in a small town in Western Canada. Both Lee and Emily have been battling drug addiction for years, and when Lee finally dies of an OD, Emily finds herself charged with possession of heroin and ends up spending six months in jail. Lee and Emily's son, Jay (James Dennis), has been living with his paternal grandparents, Albrecht (Nick Nolte) and Rosemary (Martha Henry), and while Emily is eager to see her son after getting out of jail, Albrecht persuades her that she needs to get herself clean before she can reconnect with Jay. Determined to get off methadone, Emily relocates to France, where she scares up a job as a waitress and moves in with her old friend Elena (Béatrice Dalle). Emily's attempts to start a new career and stay off drugs prove to be an uphill battle, and she doesn't appear to be winning her fight when she learns that Albrecht and Jay will be accompanying Rosemary to London for medical treatment when Rosemary contracts a serious illness -- and that Albrecht is considering making a side trip to Paris. Clean was screened in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.more
Rating: R (for drug content language and brief nudity)
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Olivier Assayas
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 18, 2006
Palm - Official Site


Maggie Cheung
as Emily Wang
Nick Nolte
as Albrecht Hauser
Jeanne Balibar
as Irene Paolini
James Johnston
as Lee Hauser
Martha Henry
as Rosemary Hauser
Remi Martin
as Jean-Pierre
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Clean

Critic Reviews for Clean

All Critics (69) | Top Critics (33)

A disappointment.

Full Review… | March 2, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Cheung makes her character work, despite a weak plot and script, both by director Assayas.

Full Review… | October 13, 2006
Miami Herald
Top Critic

Maggie Cheung gives an astonishingly complex performance as a junkie rock star trying to clean up her act.

Full Review… | October 7, 2006
Top Critic

There are so many quiet, understated miracles unfolding in Clean that all you can do is watch in awe and amazement.

Full Review… | June 30, 2006
Seattle Times
Top Critic

It helps -- immensely -- that Cheung is pitch-perfect. Her performance is heartbreaking.

June 30, 2006
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

It's a joy to watch the characters in this grown-up drama interact, their exchanges laced with anger and doubt, sadness and regret.

Full Review… | June 29, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Clean


Impossible not to think about Kurt and Courtney, even if inspite of choosing to bring up a "glamourous" drug and rock n´roll world (or the typical approach of junkies trying to clean up), the movie focus on a woman trying to change her life and to get her son back.

Another interesting point is that it´s not really a sweet movie about mother and son knowing each other and getting close. Emily is not likeable and she´s not even sure if she wants to settle down. However, it´s more to a "typical" drama movie than any other Olivier Assayas´s movies (I´ve seen) where "nothing really happens".

Rubia Carolina

Super Reviewer


Clean is all about the slow burn. It keeps itself thankfully distanced from the histrionics and melodrama of a typical drug movie, instead immersing itself in the ephemeral dream pace that most indie movies have. For what it's worth, not much actually seems to happen, and the development is far too subtle for most of the idiots on Flixster to comprehend. You can't blame people for finding the movie slow, but the path to recovering from addiction is a slow one.

Maggie Cheung completely owned this role. She gives one of the most powerful, troubled, convictive performances I've seen in a very long time. Nick Nolte is great, as well, but this is Cheung's movie.

Don't bother picking this one up if you consider yourself even slightly short of attention.

Drew Smith

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]In "Clean", Emily(Maggie Cheung) and Lee(James Johnston) are a rock and roll couple on the skids in Hamilton, Ontario.(Their son, Jay(James Dennis), is being watched by his grandparents in Vancouver.) Following a drug buy and an argument, Emily drives off and spends the night in her car near the lake. By the time she returns to the motel, the police have discovered Lee dead from an overdose. To make matters even worse, the police find heroin on her which leads to a six month jail sentence for possession. When she gets out of jail and is now on methadone to wean her off the heroin, she meets up with Lee's father, Albrecht(Nick Nolte), who tells her that it is a good idea that she not see her son for a while. Emily says she is going to Paris where she has family...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Clean" is ostensibly about a person trying to put her life back together after hitting rock bottom, but it meanders and lingers on useless trivia too much to have any success. And we learn nothing of the time Lee and Emily spent together. But it does get better by the end and is very well photographed. Nick Nolte gives one of his best performances but Maggie Cheung can do very little with a badly underwritten character. [/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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