One You Might've Missed #12: Pure


by: Brad Sturdivant

Finding diamonds in the rough is a wonderful feeling, but in order to do so, you usually have to watch a lot of bad movies. takes the pain away by recommending a movie that you may have never heard of, or missed when it first came out.

PURE is not for the faint of heart.  This is not a love story, or a tale of happiness and adventure.  Instead, it’s a story about a boy dealing with a drug addict mother.  There are no rainbows and gumdrops in this film.  Although it lacks the emotional development of certain characters to truly tug at your heartstrings, the subject matter alone sets the sad tone that’s prevalent throughout.  There are few things in life more depressing than watching a child cope with pain and agony from dealing with an incompetent parent.

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The story is centered around Paul (Harry Eden), a child in London who’s mother (Molly Parker) is addicted to heroin.  There’s an early scene where he prepares it for her and calls it her “medicine” which is heartbreaking to watch and all you want to do is jump through the screen and tell him what’s going on and then slap his mom.  But director Gillies MacKinnon forces the audience to sit through it, leaving them hoping that eventually everything will work out.  When Paul is not dealing with his mother, he’s either dealing with her abusive drug dealer (David Wenham) or hanging out at the nearby diner, where he’s befriended the kind, but incredibly messed up Louise (Keira Knightley).  Paul and Louise’s relationship is especially difficult to watch because Louise is more of a mess than anyone else in Paul’s life and we have to sit back and watch her life spiral downward, even though she’s an endearing and likeable character.

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Like a lot of films, your appreciation of this one depends on how closely you relate to the subject matter.  For me, I felt a strong connection to Paul and sympathized with what he was going through.  Even though I didn’t have it nearly as bad as he did, I felt a strong connection with the film and all of the characters.  These are real people without the Hollywood sugarcoating and overly sentimental screenplay.  If this film had been churned out by the Hollywood machine, I don’t think it would have been nearly as effective.  We needed to see Paul make heroin for his mother and then again for himself.  We needed to see Louise crying her eyes out in the hospital and the drug dealer destroy everyone around him.  That pain and agony is what made the film so powerful, even if it did make the film difficult to watch at times.

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Alison Hume (the screenwriter) does a wonderful job of crafting a story that, although sad, manages to give the audience hope that everything may work out after all.  But don’t get me wrong; there is no Hollywood ending.  Bruce Willis doesn’t barge in and save the day.  These characters have to find the right way on their own and unfortunately, not all of them find it.  That can be hard to swallow, but watching the events unfold on film is a treat and this small, independent British film is a wonderful character study that will probably surprise you with its genuineness.

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