Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Panic in Needle Park

For every actor that made it big, there's always that one film that responsible for it all. Without it, they probably wouldn't be the same actors we know today.

Take for instance Al Pacino. His recent work may be lacking but during the 1970's, he was one of the most sought-out actors in Hollywood. His big break was in The Godfather, but it was an earlier work that convinced producers to cast him as Michael Corleone. The film? Jerry Schatzberg's The Panic in Needle Park.

As Bobby, Pacino plays someone who knows his surroundings yet is unaware of what will happen next. This is stark contrast to Helen (Kitty Winn). She is unfamiliar with both the city and its lifestyle. And yet both are complimentary to each other. Bobby guides Helen around the city while she stops him from getting into dangerous territory.

However both could destroy one another. Bobby has a heroin habit and wants Helen not to follow in his footsteps. Curiosity gets the better of her. (The exchange between them when he discovers she shot up is subtle acting at its finest.) They try dig themselves out of the hole they're in, but it's a losing battle for both of them.

The Panic in Needle Park gets monotonous at times though it shows a good portrait of drug addiction and the desperation that comes with it. Pacino and Winn are very good in their roles, showing Bobby and Helen as people who got on the wrong side of the tracks. Not exactly Requiem for a Dream, but it's still pretty good.

My Rating: ****

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