Nowhere near as bleak and nihilistic as its "source material" and McCarthy & Gertz aren't particularly strong actors but it's interesting to see pre-fame RDJ & it works as a semi-bullshit snapshot of 80s LA. Plus, let's be honest, 80s Spader est am besten Spader.
It's a beautiful snapshot of 1980's Los Angeles, but the bowlderized version of BEE's dark debut novel is really awful. Clay is a moralist and although Robert Downey Jr, plays the hell out of Julian, his death at the end (his punishment for doing drugs) removes the narrative so far from the nihilism and darkness of the source that it isn't the same story at all.
A very messed up movie that makes you kind of hurt inside. Though I agree it could maybe have been better, it still did a fairly good job at making you feel fucked up and just like you were being dragged through this awful drama that is his life. Robert Downey has always been amazing, but I think that around the time this was made, he may have been at his peak, he just is fantastic. I like the rest of the cast too.