Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



The business of illegal drugs is so filthy it’s hard to describe. And I’m talking both sides of the coin, both those who deal in them, and those who try to arrest them. My personal opinion is that the problem would be solved if the government just got out of our bloodstreams and let us get high any way we want to. This seems harsh to some, I know. There would be a lot of overdoses. (As if we don’t have them now! 66,000 this year so far.) There would be those who spend their lives zoning out on the couch. Tell me, would you rather have them breaking into your house to steal stuff so they can buy drugs? Let them nod, say I. I would even be happy to put them on welfare. Really. Much cheaper in the end. If they want to waste their lives, who am I to tell them to stop? And by the way, I’d take their children away from them if they couldn’t straighten up, get a life, and raise them properly. Sorry, dude. Keep on mainlining. See if I care.

So what have our restrictive drug laws bought us? Multi-billionaire drug lords in Mexico and Columbia. Men so powerful they buy entire governments. Gang wars over the insane profits to be made by catering to the insatiable American demand for all means of getting high. Corruption of our own law enforcement agencies. The American government keeping drug prices high by making it costly and sometimes deadly to make and sell them. You think heroin or cocaine or marijuana are just naturally expensive? Think again. If they were legal they would be as cheap as Coca-Cola. And the drug lords empires would collapse.

One more thing it has bought us is tragic stories like this one. Being an undercover nark is an inherently filthy occupation. There’s no other way to put it. You deal with scum every day. It’s certain to rub off on you. You lie, cheat, betray people you have befriended. And you have to do what we see idealistic Jennifer Jason Leigh and seen-it-all Jason Patric do. To prove to the dealers that you are not a nark, you have to shoot up with them. And guess where that gets you? Hooked through the arm, that’s where. Before long it’s damned hard to tell the nark from the dealer.

This is an ugly story about an ugly profession but, aside from a pretty unbelievable ending, it seems honest. You’ll want to take a shower after you see it. But if you can stand it, it’s worth the slog through the sewer. A bit surprisingly, it was directed by a woman, Lili Fini Zanuck. Is that sexist? It’s just that this is not the usual kind of story women directors are attracted to. She did a good job … and it is her only feature film as director, though she has produced a ton of stuff. Sam Elliott and Gregg Allman co-star.