Blake Berris and Lukas Haas (left)’s characters sit on a patio, high on methamphetamines, in Meth Head.
Photo courtesy of Meth Head.
Meth Head is one hell of a film. Filmmaker Jane Clark brings us graphically honest insights and rich acting portrayals about methamphetamine and its effect on a gay man and everyone central to his life. Lukas Haas plays Kyle, a handsome, 30-ish, gay, white man who lives in the shadow of his very loving and financially successful partner, Julian (a lovable Wilson Cruz). His sense of inferiority is exacerbated by the even longer shadow of an uber-masculine father, Hank (a perfectly intimidating and charismatic Scott Patterson). Dad is a politician of the Lee Atwater ilk—that steely mix wherein antigay attitudes, material acquisitiveness, and unnecessarily hurtful tough talk are articles of faith. Hence, Kyle’s brutalized emotional core puts him at risk of making bad decisions. The most decisive one is when he takes meth and gets hooked.
Like heroin, meth is almost instantly addictive to most who take it. It also has a foothold in the GLBT community.
Queer cinema so often veers into the formulaic and propagandistic (consider screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s stunning whitewashing of the crimes of J. Edgar Hoover) in the misguided fear that if it’s not sexy enough and not positive it will fuel homophobia. And though there are some attractive men in Meth Head it is always about the characters and the psychic (and in some cases, bodily) damage, that many of them endure. (So many gay films exclude men who don’t fit the beauty ideal.) Moreover, for all its graphic drug use, sex, violence, and sexual violence, Meth Head is never sensational. It is always vividly human.
Haas is shattering in a portrayal of self-destruction that gets specific in its emotion so that there is no track of generalized emotion that becomes parody. Every single moment he is on screen is real. He bravely reveals the deterioration of an addict. He is Oscar Nomination-worthy and it’s among the best addiction performances ever put to film, whether mainstream or GLBT-indie.
Clark shows masterful control of her volatile material. She doesn’t judge but you get a piercing impression of just how dreadful the meth habit is and its ripple effect on anyone close to an addict. She also gets numinous results from her actors, some of whom also include Tom Sizemore, Necar Zadegan, and Blake Berris. Clark and Haas are two truly remarkable talents. I’m so glad they’re out there.
Sat., 5:30 pm
Followed by a Pride Institute Panel Discussion
Mall of America Theatres