Movie Review: The junkie drama Heaven Knows What has authenticity and style to spare

One junkie story tends to be much like another, so give brothers Josh and Benny Safdie credit for crafting one that’s genuinely distinctive. Part of that stems from the quasi-documentary nature of the project: While researching a different movie in New York’s Diamond District, the Safdies encountered a young recovering heroin addict named Arielle Holmes and were so taken with her that they encouraged her to write about her experiences. Mad Love In New York City, the resulting memoir (largely composed in an Apple store!), hasn’t been published. But the Safdies went ahead and adapted it into a film, casting Holmes in the lead role, as a version of herself. It was a risky gambit that paid off handsomely, as her live-wire performance (opposite one professional actor and a lot of other non-pros) gives Heaven Knows What an electrifying immediacy that sets it apart from the usual …

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