Director: Olivier Assayas


The extraordinary Maggie Cheung andNick Nolte deliver subtle, moving career performances in Clean, the new film from Festival favourite Olivier Assayas. They play a mother and grandfather embroiled in an emotional chess match for the heart and custody of the young boy who means so much to them. The film plays out in locations ranging from industrial Ontario and remote beachside British Columbia to Paris and London, giving a strong stamp of universality to its messages of redemption and the ability of love to triumph in even the most difficult of circumstances.
When her faded rock-star partner Lee Hauser (James Johnston) passes away in a dingy motel, Emily (Cheung) findsherself abandoned by friends andfamily amid the spewing smokestacks of gritty urban Hamilton. Her son Jay (James Dennis) lives in the nurturing sanctuary of his grandparents’ rural home on the west coast. Albrecht (Nolte) and Rosemary Hauser (illustrious Canadian stage and screen actor Martha Henry) are awarded custody of Jay after Lee’s death. Albrecht is sympathetic to Emily’s desire to see Jay, but insists she leave behind her dead-end lifestyle before he will allow a reunion.
In Assayas hands, Emily’s transformation is riveting, her every action, statement and expression suffused with a fragile, complex grace. Assayas shows a remarkable intimacy with our multi-faceted nation (local hero Don McKellar also makes an appearance), neatly contrasting Emily and Albrecht, frigidity and warmth, the bright lights of Paris and a Pacific fishing village.

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