Film Comment - 04/01/2006
"Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte not only give two beautifully modulated performances here, they also serve as emotional compass points..."
Entertainment Weekly - 04/28/2006
"[T]he role is a plum -- and Cheung was rewarded with the prize for best actress at Cannes in 2004."
New York Times - 04/28/2006
"A thoughtful, philosophic man with tough inner core, Albrecht brings out a side of Mr. Nolte rarely seen on the screen, and he gives a deep and touching portrayal..."
Los Angeles Times - 05/01/2006 4 stars out of 4 -- "Visually assured, beautifully acted, it's a movie of scrupulous straightforwardness..."
Uncut - 09/01/2006 4 stars out of 4 -- "Assayas' sometimes undemonstrative film derives a special edge from Cheung's performance..."
Premiere - 01/01/2007
Included in Premiere's "10 Best Movies Of The Year" -- "Smart, unsentimental, very moving, and entirely underseen."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Maggie Cheung gives a bravura performance as a complex troubled woman who is trying to forge a bond with her young son while at the same time healing and distancing herself from a past full of drugs, jail and turbulent relationships.
Maggie Cheung gives an extraordinary performance in CLEAN, written and directed by her ex-husband, Olivier Assayas (DEMONLOVER). Cheung stars as Emily Wang, a junkie living with fading rock-and-roll star Lee Hauser (James Johnston). Their wild life has swung so far out of control that their young son, Jay (James Dennis) lives far away in Vancouver with Lee's parents, Rosemary (Martha Henry) and Albrecht (Nick Nolte). One night, after fighting over Lee's future career, Emily goes for a long ride, only to return to find that Lee has overdosed and the cops are ready to bring her in. After spending six months in prison, Emily discovers that life for a recovering heroin addict -- who still has a thing for other drugs, as well as alcohol -- is going to be a lot harder than she thought. She also decides to reconnect with Jay, who is not thrilled with her sudden and confusing reappareance in his life.
Cheung, who has starred in such diverse films as Wong Kar-wai's romantic IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, Zhang Yimou's martial arts epic HERO, and Assayas's own IRMA VEP, which is set in the world of moviemaking, was named Best Actress at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for her mesmerizing portrayal of Emily, an ambitious woman lost in a haze of drugs and desire. Nolte excels as the soft-spoken Albrecht, who only wants what's best for his grandson while also being concerned about Emily's welfare. Musicians Tricky, David Roback of Mazzy Star, and Emily Haines of Metric appear in the film as themselves, and Beatrice Dalle and Jeanne Balibar are excellent in supporting roles. The soundtrack features songs by Brian Eno, Luna's Dean Wareham, Tricky, Metric, and Cheung herself.