Permanent Midnight

1998

Permanent Midnight

Critics Consensus

Aimless storytelling undermines the gripping, unsettling subject of this film.

58%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 53

54%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,650
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Movie Info

This drama is adapted from the autobiography of comedy writer Jerry Stahl. Stahl's $6000-a-week heroin habit had him taking his infant daughter along on his drug runs and doing smack during TV script conferences. Departing detox, Stahl explores memories with survivor Kitty, who listens patiently to Stahl's flashback.

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Critic Reviews for Permanent Midnight

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (22)

Audience Reviews for Permanent Midnight

  • Jun 24, 2012
    A television writer's heroin addiction sinks his career goals and his marriage. Usually I give no credence to people who say that a protagonist needs to be "likable." No, s/he doesn't have to be likable; s/he has to be interesting. But after watching <i>Permanent Midnight</i>, I can at least see an example of why likable protagonists make storytelling a little easier. Jerry Stahl, as played by Ben Stiller, is a morose heroin addict who does anything to get his fix. Unlike other depictions of addiction, <i>Permanent Midnight</I> doesn't romanticize any aspect of Stahl's life, and as a result, there's nothing to like about him. I'm left wondering why people like him or want to hire him for anything. Sandra, Stahl's wife, comes off as a dull, blind idiot, as portrayed by the film. Because we in the audience can see no redeemable quality in Stahl and because the film's characters don't point out anything unique about him, it's easy to give up on his plight. Stiller does play a convincing dramatic part, but he fails to lend his natural good humor to this character. Overall, there's nothing new about heroin addiction or Hollywood in this film, but it did teach me a little something about whether or not I should dismiss most of what is said in a creative writing workshop.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 14, 2012
    Stiller in a darkly dramatic turn as a successful Hollywood writer undone by heroin use, and the fact that no one takes him seriously, least of all himself. It proves to be an enigma, hard to care about, and Stiller (oddly typecast) struggles with this contradiction. Moments of truth, like scoring while babysitting, raise this Hollywood message ("just say no to drugs") piece above typical movie of the week exploitation, but only just.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 05, 2012
    "Permanent Midnight" is one of the shallowest movies I've ever seen. It is also bizarrely off in tone and pitch. It is based on a memoir about massive drug addiction, but it's directed as if it's a comedy. Ben Stiller gives an atrociously nonchalant, smirky performance as the drug addict. A couple of female characters stand around in the background with absolutely nothing to say. Owen Wilson also appears every now and again with nothing to say. I imagine that the memoir upon which the film is based has some value. My guess is that the film version fell apart not because the book was so bad but because the project fell into the hands of first-time director David Veloz, who not surprisingly has never done another film. Veloz just seemed to have no idea how to handle material like this. Perhaps he was trying to do something radical by approaching it tongue-in-cheek. But it is a colossal failure.
    William D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 07, 2011
    Not as graphic as Jerry Stahl's novel, and the major problem with the movie is that it should have been, I guess it was too much for an R rating. So what Veloz has done is take bits from the novel and some of the addiction problems and make his own film that, while not as much of an exploration into the subject as I wanted, is entertaining, has tremendous acting, good soundtrack choices, and laughs that the source material is lacking, plus is very accurate about opiate addiction.Critics and general movie-goers that I have talked to find 'Permanent Midnight' to be minor, plotless, and that it's a run-of-the-mill film on opiate addiction and they are about half right. The key to making a good or great film on the subject matter is not having more plot (it fails on most cases) but to have a convincing actor in the lead role and to show what the addiction can do to the people you know or love, your work, and personality while not relying solely on visuals. 'Permanent Midnight' is a damn good movie and is very truthful in its handling of addiction and earns a spot up on the list of 'junkie' films, close to the adaptation of 'Jesus' Son'. Ben Stiller fan? Don't expect a lot of laughs.
    Jonny B Super Reviewer

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