"Permanent Midnight," is based on a true story about television
screenwriter Jerry Stahl (Ben Stiller), who battled with his extreme
heroin addiction throughout the 1970's and 80's. Told in flashback to a
one night fling (Maria Bello) after he has been sober for 50 days, he
talks about how the drugs pretty much destroyed him, as well as the
relationship with his British wife (Elizabeth Hurley), whom he married
so she would be able to get a green card.
"Permanent Midnight," is a none-too-special drama that tells a story
about drugs that has been done countless times before, and better.
Although the sequences of the drug taking are occasionally quite graphic
and realistic, that is the whole movie. There is no attempt to develop
any of the other characters, and his relationship with Hurley doesn't
even seem fully written. We also learn next to nothing about Stahl's
career, so the film isn't even good for learning about him.
Ben Stiller cannot be faulted, however. He gives a brave, first-rate
performance, and Maria Bello also is charismatic. Janeane Garofalo may
very well be the highlight of the film, however, even though she is only
in two scenes. There is something about her that I always love, and she
brings something special or funny to every role she takes on.
"Permanent Midnight," is a film filled with good performances, but very
little else. It's okay to tell a story about drugs, but the filmmakers
probably should have realized that constant sequences of drug taking,
one after the other, does not a good film make.
Copyright © 1998 Dustin Putman