Starring Adrien Brody ,Glenn Fleshler ,Richie Merritt ,Chandler Ari DuPont
Directed by Paul Solet
Rating: ** ½
“I am still searching for answers, though I don’t know the questions any longer.” Sounds like something Nietzsche would say on a morning after heavy drinking.
But somehow it makes sensen in this film, given the perverse paradigm of the low-life locality where Adrien Brody’s Clean—yes, that’s his name—does his scavenger’s work with a metaphorical forbearance.
Adrien Brody is an actor I have admired ever since I saw him playing the piano in Roman Polanski’s The Piano. For this Oscar-winning film Adrien Brody learnt to play the piano.
I don’t know if he learnt how take out the trash for Clean. There so much of it to take out.
Brody’s Clean wants to clean out his neighbourhood which has become incurably infested with drugs and crime. He wants to protect a pretty young girl Dianda(Chandler DuPont) from a life of crime. He looks out for her the way he would for his own daughter who we are told, passed away suddenly.
When Dianda still gets into the wrong hands, Clean takes a massive wrench spanner and smashes every young face in a room full of smoke and sin.What ensues is pure mayhem. Brody is not squeamish about the blood and gore. Faces are smashed, victims have their bellies kick in, bullets and pumped into heads and the camera stares at the bloodspill with a mixture of awe and revulsion. However to call the violence in Clean gratuitous would be unfair. No one here is saying that it’s okay to smash skulls and bash in faces.
What the film does show with enormous energy and efficacy is how violence is sometimes not only the remedy but also inevitable. Brody plays Clean as someone who has to take out the trash before we can breathe freely. The narrative is constantly probing into Clean’s stormy past which we see only in glimpses.
By obfuscating Clean’s dirty past, the film comes as close to ratifying violence as Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Of course I am not comparing Brody’s film ,which he also co-scripted and composed music for , to Kubrick’s . But the feeling of being trapped in trashy aggression persists throughout.
As actor, Adrien Brody brings a distant wounded pride to his part. He is hurt and not resentful about it until the girl who reminds him of his dead daughter is sucked into a life of ignominy.Glenn Fleshler as the main antagonist is not sufficiently vile though amply vile.When his son’s face is badly smashed by the hero, his reaction is borderline idiotic: “Let him remain that way to remind me of what’s been done.”
Or some such garbage, trash being the decisive element in the conflict.
Clean is a sturdy morality tale , constantly pushing the borders of civil behaviour,probing wounds that never heal and a cruelty that never stops. It is a dark humourless brooding piece of cinema with no surprises. If a man has got to what he’s got to do, then the cinema of his explosion must perforce be messy.
Clean is messy. But it is not unwatchable.