Kimberly Reyes
April 25, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Writer-director Allison Anders’ greatest gift has always been her uncanny ability to do justice to the stories of outsiders and undesirables. Her seventh and most personal film follows a rock journalist whose haunting past catches up with him as he crosses paths with a former acquaintance, an unsound musician (convincingly played by Dickens). The incapacitating imperfections of Anders’ characters, coupled with the realistic emotional tension the actors bring to the heavy material, results in her most poignant and affecting work to date.

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