Permanent Midnight - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Permanent Midnight Reviews

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hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
June 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 Permanent Midnight, 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, Permanent Midnight 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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 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.
½ May 10, 2012
Everybody comes to Hollywood. They wanna make it in the neighborhood.
½ May 1, 2012
an impressive performance by Ben Stiller in, what i believe is, his first dramatic role... the love scene between him and Connie Nielsen is astounding!
½ April 16, 2012
Not quite the role one normally sees Ben stiller in. He's a heroin addict whose a writer in LA. Who basically starts to lose his mind as he gets deeper into drug addiction.
½ April 10, 2012
ben stiller's portrayal of heroin junkie jerry stahl is excellent. adapted from stahl's own autobiography
March 14, 2012
Feels aimless but still a realistic and harrowing portrayal of addiction. Also Stiller can act.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ March 5, 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.
December 11, 2011
Tres bon film avec Ben Stiller en heroinomane plutot flippant. A voir.
November 6, 2011
A very strong performance by Stiller in a very disturbing story. Bello, though required to do more than react to Stiller, is compelling and beautifully understated as Kitty.
September 4, 2011
Great performance from Stiller.
June 19, 2011
Much like my feelings about Leaving Las Vagas, this movie was too disturbing in nature to be enjoyable. The performances were excellent, but they could not overcome the subject matter. Maria Bello has become a favorite of mine, and Ben Stiller was almost too believable. The scene with the baby in the car speaks volumes about just how low someone can fall. Though it makes a powerful statement, I just can't say that I liked it.
June 13, 2011
good performance by Stiller, decent film.
Super Reviewer
June 7, 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.
March 24, 2011
Ben Stiller like you've never seen him before, in a drama! It is quite refreshing to see him in a more serious role, and he does a very good job playing Jerry Stahl. Jerry Stahl did a lot of drugs, heroine mostly, and at a long period in his life he did it every day. So I actually lost count how many times Ben Stiller gets the needle out in this film. It can be difficult to watch a main character in a film on a continuous down spiral, and at times it is in this story. But it really gives you a great idea of how drugs can ruin every area of ones life! So it's an interesting look at the more hidden area of Jerry Stahl's life. Good film.
February 9, 2011
There is very little ground that has yet to be treaded upon when it comes to movies about alcohol or drug addiction. They revolve around a simple concept of spending the daytime scouring for whatever substance is motivating them, and their life is either crumbling or being depicted in a comical and ecstatic way. However, just because there a structured formulaic way to depict these events does in no way mean that the film can't stand out from the crowd and wave you over.

Permanent Midnight is a true story that follows the maniacal period of writer Jerry Stahl's life led in double form. Making $5,000 a week is definitely an amount to be defined as "doing well," except for when there's a simultaneous $6,000 a week drug habit that's chasing you around town putting your life on the bench. The film's story is focused on his double life, balancing his job writing for hit sitcoms and a green card induced marriage to British wife Sandra (Elizabeth Hurley) while shooting heroin all day. It's exhausting just to watch, and painful at the same time but yet you'll find yourself unable to look away because of the depth and intricacy of this train wreck. The building momentum of his chaotic addiction reaches such intense heights, that by the time he shoots heroin into his neck while sitting next to his baby in the car, you'll be tested on just how far into the envelope you can be pushed.

Ben Stiller is not one to go hand in hand with serious roles in most minds, but his work and talent portraying his real life friend Jerry Stahl is shockingly gripping, it's difficult to decide which has more strength and potency, the drugs or Stiller's acting.

The one move by the director that I always felt awkward around was the constant shifting back and forth between the story and Stahl (Stiller) telling it to a ex-addict named Kitty in a hotel room. This wouldn't be so rough of a transition if the scenes in the hotel room were shot well and the chemistry was fluid, but sadly enough neither is true.

This is by no means the first movie of an addict suffering through his days, but it is one that takes a unique and effective stride with characters that have some unique flare and incredibly strong acting by Stiller. Showing the dark and horrible sides of addiction, Permanent Midnight is chock full of grit, gritty themes, and depravity, and stands above most films of this nature.
½ February 2, 2011
Very interesting and well-made biopic, with a surprisingly great Stiller.
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2011
Parts of this movie were really shocking, such as Stiller's character bringing his baby daughter on drug runs and driving her around while high. I thought Stiller did a phenomenal job in his portrayal of Jerry Stahl - very convincing. It showed he can do more than comedy. Good cast and great story!
½ January 1, 2011
Standard drug addiction story with stylish direction and high entertainment value. You know there's something there when your biggest complaint about a film is that it felt about forty-five minutes too short. Ben Stiller gives the best and most underrated performance of his career.
November 15, 2010
Woaw! This was a shocking drugaddict-movie! And to think Ben Stiller in the lead as a gone mental heroine addict,
illustrating up to 20 shots along the way! The life of Jerry Stahl might not be given that correctly, against the rush this is,
getting hooked on his devastating habbit and acting all worked up, constantly, this is still acurate all together. But don't expect a good biopic.
Just scrape one or more of the extremely offending and unapropriate behavior. The need for his shot is highly exclamated! Ben realy gets his groove on, real speedfreak but also certainly physically. Owen Wilson does a slight stand-by, mostly to keep the joy in these actually horrible situations.
The only assurance we get is the fact that he's telling this story when he's kicked, trying to create trust with this girl.
It's mostly demented and outrageous. Certainly catching are the several hits he does, kindly shown very well, as a red thread through party's,
meetings and everyday life. It reaches certain limits, for example when he meets this guy after signing in for rehab
and eventually the point whereafter he sees the need to change.
Still they manage to give it more lighty, translated in nice, steady tragic comedy.Ideal! (well, only a few can relive life after these kind of trips)
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