Gregg Araki – Nowhere (1997)

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Quote:
“Described by director Gregg Araki as “A Beverly Hills 90210 episode on acid” (with no suggestions of what it might be cut with), Nowhere is a companion piece with Araki’s previous meditations on youth gone wild in the 1990s, Totally F***ed Up and The Doom Generation — Araki’s self-described “teen apocalypse trilogy.” Nowhere follows 18-year-old Dark Smith (James Duval) as he goes through a fairly typical day in Los Angeles. Dark needs, but rarely gets, emotional support from his girlfriend Mel (Rachel True). Mel, however, is also involved with a girl named Lucifer (Kathleen Robertson), while Dark moons over hunky Montgomery (Nathan Bexton). Dark’s best friend Cowboy (Guillermo Diaz) has troubles of his own, as his boyfriend and bandmate Bart (Jeremy Jordan) is back on drugs and spending most of his time with his dealer. Mel’s friends include sugar junkie Dingbat (Christina Applegate), doomsday poetess Alyssa (Jordan Ladd), and Egg (Sarah Lassez), who is being unexpectedly wooed by a Famous Teen Idol (Jason Simmons). Egg’s brother Ducky (Scott Caan) has a crush on Alyssa, but she’s keeping company with a biker named Elvis (Thyme Lewis). Alyssa’s assignation with Elvis gets a psychic boost by her twin brother Shad (Ryan Phillippe) and his tryst with Lilith (Heather Graham). The day continues on a roller coaster of kinky sex, hallucinogenic drugs, random violence, romantic misunderstandings, alien abductions, and (of course) a wild party, this time at the home of noted hipster Jujyfruit (Gibby Haynes). Like The Doom Generation, Nowhere features a wealth of pop culture icons in cameo appearances, including John Ritter, Traci Lords, Charlotte Rae, Eve Plumb, and Shannen Doherty. — Mark Deming

“The content, tone, and overall worth of 1997’s Nowhere — the glossiest and final installment in director Gregg Araki’s “teen apocalypse trilogy” — falls somewhere between the lurid existential thrills of 1995’s Doom Generation and the self-indulgent neo-documentary soap opera of 1993’s Totally F***ed Up. The world of Nowhere is as day-glo brilliant as that of Doom Generation, but it’s also typically squalid and painful underneath the neon. Casual viewers will enjoy the numerous starlets and icons who populate Araki’s L.A., from Ryan Phillippe, Christina Applegate, and Mena Suvari to a bevy of sitcom survivors, hipster footnotes, and former porn stars. But for those who take Araki seriously in spite of, or because of, his postmodern gamesmanship, Nowhere is closer in emotional weight to David Lynch’s Lost Highway than to an Aaron Spelling soap or a Hollywood teen sex comedy. As in his earlier films, Araki infests his characters with vacuous youthfulness and glamorous angst, then does terrible things to them once he’s convinced viewers to somehow care. The cast this time is so cluttered, however, that it’s up to a few performers with emotional depth, such as Guillermo Diaz and Sarah Lassez, to lend gravity to the proceedings. Nowhere is the first installment in the trilogy in which the character played by Araki’s muse, James Duval, doesn’t suffer a pointless and hideous death, but that doesn’t mean the director doesn’t masochistically torture his spiritual stand-in. The terrific love quadrangle between the characters played by the bewildered Duval, the wickedly right-on Rachel True, the soulfully stammering Nathan Bexton, and the deliciously tart Kathleen Robertson is a perfect snapshot of Araki’s polymorphously perverse, pervasively nihilistic worldview. And when Duval ends up alone at the film’s end, covered for once in somebody else’s blood, adherents of Araki’s attention-deficit philosophizing will find the scene as devastating as any straightforward tragedy. — Brian J. Dillard”




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