***/**** Image A- Sound B-
starring Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr., James Spader
screenplay by Harley Peyton, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis
directed by Marek Kanievska
by Walter Chaw The quality of dislocation in Marek Kanievska's Less Than Zero is startling and sinister. It creeps up on you after a confusing opening that skips forward six months from a high school graduation before flashing back a month and then reorienting itself again in Beverly Hills at Christmastime in 1987. But by the middle of the film, the temporal decisions made during its disorienting prologue suddenly make perfect sense: while Less Than Zero will never be as narratively jumpy again, the pervasive mood of the piece remains disconnected and frightened. It feels breathless in a way that movies about drug addiction must. Though Less Than Zero seems, despite its sterile apocalyptic blight, almost naïve in the wake of Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, it retains (especially in retrospect, given the lost spirit of the Eighties and Robert Downey Jr.'s offscreen problems), something approaching the laden nostalgia of Romanticism. Something by Thomas de Quincey, no doubt.