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USA 2003
Directed by
Stephen J. Szklarski
120 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Union Square

There's Brad and Angelina, fabulously wealthy celebrities with the world at their feet, then there's Mike and Cheyenne, anonymous and homeless heroin addicts living in Union Square Park, in New York City. Such is life in a free market economy and such are the thoughts that pass through one's head whilst watching this unvarnished documentary that follows the daily existence of seven 20-something street junkies.

Director Stephen J. Szklarski, who also performed the roles of writer/editor/cinematographer and executive producer, takes us as close to this abject world as most people are ever likely to want to go. From the comfort of one's well-upholstered armchair it is difficult to comprehend how anyone can let their lives get so far down the toilet but Szklarski's subjects are all remarkably articulate and philosophical about their self-inflicted lot. Well, all bar Mike who takes it out on Cheyenne. Dysfunctional childhood is a common theme, in Cheyenne's case being the child of heroin addicts, although there is quite a spread of circumstances in which this disorienting pain occurs, including in one instance a comfortable middle-class background. It is a sad story and one that, despite its rating, would make a useful educational tool. No young person seeing this is ever likely choose a comparable path in life.

DVD Extras: Trailer and a follow-up interview feature that is well worth watching which revisits most of the subjects two years after the original filming.




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