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Friday, April 6, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 127



Depp reaches deep as drug-dealer in epic 'Blow'


Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz
4 stars
New Line Cinema

Rated R

By Michelle Norton
Daily Cougar Staff

Expecting only illicit drugs, casual sex and disco fever, one will be pleasantly surprised to find a poignant story of a drug dealer's rise and fall in the new drama Blow.

Set in the midst of the 1970s drug revolution, Blow follows the rise of the Columbian cartels and the introduction of cocaine into the United States with the help of one ambitious American entrepreneur, George Jung.

Played by Golden Globe nominatee Johnny Depp, Jung vows to live a better life than his father, who is a construction worker played by Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), which leads to his constant pursuit of bigger and better things.

Deciding to leave home and strike out on his own, Jung and his childhood friend move to California where he is first introduced to a life of leisure. While there he meets his first love played by Franka Potente of Run, Lola, Run, an airplane stewardess, who introduces him to a marijuana dealer played by Paul Reuben (a.k.a Pee Wee Herman).

Blow is the true-life tale of Eugene Jung, set in the wild times of the 1970s. Blow is rated R.

L. Sebastian/
New Line Cinema

But in Jung's usual fashion he doesn't dare stop with simple marijuana dealing. While serving time in jail, Jung meets Diego Delgado played by Jordi Molla who sells him on the idea of getting involved with the rising Columbian drug trade, cocaine. Jung and Delgado then partner up with Pablo Escobar (Cliff Curtis) to export cocaine to American shores.

In the midst of these adventures, Jung meets a flamboyant socialite named Mirtha, played by Goya award winner Penelope Cruz, whom he marries. Mirtha later gives birth to his child, Kristina.

When everything seems to be going according to plan with wall-to-wall boxes of money, a luxurious house and extravagant cars, Jung discovers that you shouldn't strive for things out of your reach or you will lose what is most valuable to you.

Directed by Ted Demme, who has worked on such projects as Life with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence and Monument Avenue with Denis Leary, Blow offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making and breaking of a drug dealer through a troubled childhood, failed relationships, big breaks, betrayal and finally an epiphany that comes too late.

Demme keeps the audience on its toes by not allowing it to get too comfortable. By staying away from in-your-face sex scenes and continuous violent acts, the audience is surprised by when these scenes do happen and are able to experience them first-hand with the characters.

Through a variety of camera angles and haze-filled sequences, Demme is able to project the feel of the 1970s. With period costumes and funky musical scores, he also projects a time when things seemed simpler on the surface but really weren't.

In a moving performance, Depp by far steals the scenes and offers moviegoers a well-rounded character, allowing them to be a part of his powerful emotional journey. Even with the heavy emphasis on emotions, Depp still finds room to make his character humorous.

During his first stay in jail, Depp discovers a hidden world where petty thieves can become master criminals by learning from each other the secrets of the trade. In perhaps one of the funniest lines of the movie, Depp's character proudly announces, "I entered with a bachelor of marijuana and left with a doctorate of cocaine."

With a great cast and even better story line, Blow is a surprising must-see. Hidden beneath what seems like just a story about an ambitious drug dealer and his greed is a powerful life lesson that will move audiences and tug at their heartstrings.

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