Reviews of Trash
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Paul Morrissey’s follow-up to Flesh is an exploratory X-rated piece about the lives of decadent heroin junkies living in a dilapidated apartment home. This time around, Joe is living with his welfare hungry girlfriend played in an outstanding performance by famous transsexual Holly Woodlawn. Unable to get by on their minimum constraints and grotesque living conditions, the pair spend most of their time stealing from houses, dumpster diving, and drug dealing. Things are constantly going wrong for them and though they discover a possible way out of the madness and the mindlessness, the chances of them not blowing it are close to nil. Joe has become sexually impotent due to his addictions and is no longer able to be sexually aroused. His girlfriend, for the most part, uses him and treats him like utter garbage. The people that surround them, both rich and poor, are not getting by much better. The lives of these so-called freaks and street junkies are detailed in this picture.
Out of all the films in Paul Morrissey’s trilogy, as well as all of the films he has directed, this one is definitely my favorite. This is one of the best films about drug addiction that I have ever seen. After seeing this, I can see that Paul Morrissey’s filmmaking style is the real deal. Never before have I seen a film about junkies that actually gets it right in every way like this film does. This film really gives a perspective feeling that these are the kinds of people you would meet on the streets of New York in a dark alley. Not only does the film really get into the lives of these people with almost no struggle, but it also allows plenty of humor and heartbreak to exist in equal measure. This is the kind of film I would prefer to see when I watch a film with this sort of subject matter. This film is shocking, it is brave, it is disturbing, it is sexually explicit, and it is as brutal and cold as they come. You get the sense that the film doesn’t have any interest in humanizing drug addicts, nor does it give the feeling that it wants to demonize. It just wants to show the viewer the lowest of low in the most straight-forward, honest, and breathtaking way possible, and it’s all done in the same Cinéma vérité style as Flesh was. This film goes so much further than Flesh, however. Flesh was a tastefully made, sexually explicit film about a man whose life revolves around hustling and refusing to better himself due to fear of change. With Trash, however, there is simply nothing tasteful about this. This film is probably what inspired John Waters to make Pink Flamingos. It has the same sort of shock humor, the same poor quality filmmaking, and very similar imagery and characters as the 1972 John Waters film. I don’t think that even that film went as far as this one did, however, and while I applaud John Waters for making an entertaining film, Trash, as I mentioned above, is really where it’s at. This is a film about junkies made by junkies for junkies (as well as for the curious), and I think that it deserves to be seen simply due to the world that it shows you.
To simply describe the film won’t quite do it justice, but I’ll try my best. The characters in this film are all so rich and so diverse that it’s hard to simply choose which ones I like the most. In Flesh, the only character who had any sort of human traits was Joe Dallesandro’s character. In Trash, everyone has fascinating qualities. You have Holly Woodlawn, who is as disgusting, trashy, manipulative, and terrifying as you would be afraid to believe. She is simply a monster, and she shows this monstrous nature of hers in nearly every scene she is in. Even in a scene in which she masturbates with a beer bottle, she comes off as simply destructive. Oh my god how much I love her. Her character is so evilly sultry and unlike anything I’ve seen in terms of manipulative female characters. I love her face, especially her overbite. She just has such a uniquely twisted presence, and I cannot take my eyes off of her when she’s onscreen. The two best performances, however, come from two other women who both have only one scene each and who both take full advantage of the time that they are onscreen. Andrea Feldman and Jane Forth. Oh my goodness, they are both so perfect in this film! Andrea Feldman’s character absolutely makes no sense in the context of the storyline, and yet her character brings such an otherworldly nature to the film. The way she talks is almost hypnotic. She speaks as if she doesn’t even pay attention to what she’s saying. She has a slurred, slinky, slight tone that is so incredibly horrible and hilarious, and the way the character simply looks is mindbogglingly bizarre. She’s this rich girl who randomly bumps into Joe and begs him for some LSD. She takes him home with her, and from there on out comes a humongous and wacky monologue that I couldn’t even describe if I tried. She simply has to be seen to be believed. Jane Forth, on the other hand, with her constant improvising and her talkative and distant manner, is a true sight to behold. As soon as she starts talking, I cannot stop laughing. Never before have I seen a woman who is so bitterly sarcastic and so verbally self-absorbed. Both her and Andrea Feldman deserve some sort of accolade for their memorable performances. I’m not even going to go into detail about the various other bizarre characters in here like the rich student who shows up at Joe and Holly’s apartment for drugs and the welfare worker with a wandering mind. You need to experience these people for yourself. Talking about them simply won’t even prepare you.
Make no mistake, this is still the same sort of poorly put together piece of pitiful filmmaking that you would expect from Paul Morrissey at this time in his career. However, this is what gives Trash so much power and so much truth. Films like Trash and Panic in Needle Park just don’t get made anymore these days. Sure, there are films like Spun that are obviously inspired by pictures such as this, but those are mostly made by people who at least know what they are doing. I’m not saying that if a professional filmmaker made a film about junkies it will automatically be bad. I’d be a pretty small minded person if I said that. No, what I mean to say is that making a film as alternately powerful, trashy, ugly, raw, cheap, and dirty as this requires a certain sort of fearlessness, and I have a feeling that most professional filmmakers don’t have the guts to really get involved in this sort of drug underworld to be able to pull it off. That’s what makes this film really special, I think. It is also deeply sad. Joe Dallesandro’s character is nothing like his character was in Flesh. In Flesh, we had a character who was joyous, naive, gentle-natured, sensitive, kind, and physically strong. Here, he looks tired, dehumanized, angry, ugly, bored, and just generally unhappy. He still has the same pock marks all over his body and all over his ass as he did in Flesh, but here we get the sense that it’s less from naturally growing up and more from neglect. Joe Dallesandro proves, in the span of five seconds, that he is has versatile physical presence. To me, this only makes the film more real and more deserving of an audience than most, if not all, films of it’s kind. Trash is a perfect title for the most perfect film of it’s kind.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.