* Is shock therapy really the standard procedure for patients disoriented by drugs? Or was that put in the film just for its horror value? And not disclosing what shock therapy is to a drug-addled patient who is clearly out of her mind? Kind of against standard disclosure procedures. Obviously improper disclosure happens all of the time, but it feels like the writers just put it in to make the movie as brutal as possible.
** Written in the Seventies.
*** To clarify, the original novel was written in the seventies.
*** Yeah, I later found that out. However, giving no hint it's supposed to be set in another time makes it confusing.
** Yeah, I didn't buy that at all. I think a few months on speed is too short a time to have any permanent effects from it. It also bugs me that this film presents ECT as something sadistic and brutal when it's actually [[http://www.slate.com/id/2181158/ humane and effective]]. (In real life she would have been anesthetized.)
*** You're forgetting that, once again, this was written in the seventies; back then, ECT was basically used for everything and the doctors didn't really know how to utilize the technology effectively. Back then ETC usually WAS brutal and sadistic.
*** Agreed. ECT has developed a lot from its origins a good 80-something(?) years ago. And anaesthetic was not used, although even in the 70s, there were variations and different ways to use it that the entire psychiatric profession was arguing about. In state institutions, the state of care was downright horrifying and ECT was used as a cure for everything from simple depression to undifferentiated schizophrenia. It was either that or Insulin comas.... which were ''way'' worse. Yeah, psychiatry in America was pretty horrifying back in the day, although the quality of care varied wildly from institution to institution -- some private ones were downright wonderful by all accounts. Actually, put in the proper time context and assuming that Sara and Harry are in state hospitals and institutions - which were desperately running on low funds -- everything was a pretty bad but realistic portrayal.
* Why did Tyrone and Harry need to drive all the way down to Florida for heroin? Why did they need to leave NYC at all? Which, by the way, has over 10 million people?
** Not to mention that much of the heroin in the US comes in to New York and Newark Harbors, the absolute farthest Harry and Tyrone would have to go is across the Hudson bridge and over into Newark.
** None of their dealers were selling because of the gang war. Plus, IIRC, the prices in NY were getting jacked way up.
*** ALL of the heroin in NYC was being jacked up? Like I said before, there are 10 MILLION people in NYC, and there was that many even in the seventies.
*** If the gang war was big enough, yes, it could be plausible. There seemed to be several very large gangs involved and if people were angry and scared they'd stop selling. And that could be across the whole city. People who ''were'' selling would make it exclusive and profit off it by jacking up the prices.
*** Not to mention, the fact that Harry and Tyrone are simply not the savviest dealers on their block or any other, so they might not even know how to properly network and find better sources outside of the few they had been utilizing, and were by winter so desperate they willingly chased after a big pie in the sky possibility in the sunny climes of Florida. In the novel, there is a passage which explores the both of them realizing just how insane and far-fetched this entire plan actually is, but neither one being able to admit it to themselves or the other and turn back means they see it through to the brutal end.
*** I agree with the above comment. Most likely there were quite a lot of sources around if you had a clear head and went hunting for them, but Harry and Tyrone were desperate and withdrawing, with little knowledge of the drug underground. They were so desperate that they made a run for it and followed a rumor to Florida just to escape.
* Why did the writers choose to make the characters so unsympathetic (outside of simply being drug users)? Harry abuses his loving grandmother in order for his drug fix and later makes the really smart move of shooting up when his arm is beginning to go gangrenous, Marion squanders the opportunities and money given to her by her privileged (albeit unloving -- although we don't know for sure) parents and has fantastical dreams of making it big when even people with recognized talent are routinely ignored, and Sara delusionally ignores the advice of her son to stop taking her weight-loss pills.
** The whole point of the film was the fact that each of the characters had some sort of addiction which caused them to be delusional and ultimately destroy themselves. Even looking past the whole addiction, we see other things tearing apart the protagonists: Harry and Tyron strive to get money an "easier" way by selling drugs instead of getting real jobs. Marion obviously is ''supposed'' to have overly fantastic dreams of being a designer (which is a difficult job) that she probably wouldn't be able to achieve. She's also kind of a slacker, as it's shown that Harry is the one who pushes her to try and start a shop instead of waiting for it to fall into her lap. And Sara, I can't believe you missed it since it was pretty obvious, but she loves television. Obsesses over it, ''wants to be on it'' so bad. The red dress and the weight loss pills compound her addictions of trying to look good enough to be on it. The whole story is sort of a representation, too, of the seeking of escapism as all of the characters are trying to find ways to avoid life instead of facing it, which causes their ultimate demise.
*** Plus, I don't think Sara is all that unsympathetic? I mean she ignores what Harry says but she seems a little senile before she starts taking drugs and it's implied they've had kind of a rocky relationship, but for the most part she seems like a reasonably nice person if a bit deluded and oblivious, which makes what happens to her even sadder.
* In the quick cut scenes when the characters use heroin, their pupil (black hole in the iris) dilates (expands) rapidly; opioids like heroin make your pupils constrict to a pin-point.
** They dilate very quickly because of the pain of shooting up, afterwards they constrict to a pin-point in the manner that you describe. You have to admire the attention to detail in this movie.
* Well, at least Harry has the consolation that he's about to become very rich from suing the doctor and prison. Lord, ''DOCTORS AREN'T ALLOWED TO HAVE PATIENTS ARRESTED'' (unless they're threatening them).
** Didn't the cops arrest Tyrone (who wasn't a patient) for fleeing jurisdiction, and it wouldn't take much of a stretch to implicate Harry, seeing as he's actively helping a criminal flee jurisdiction in addition to the myriad of other crimes he could be implicated with?
*** Nope. The doctor saw Harry's arm, looked at him funny (while grabbing the bottles of liquid medicine), and took off, presumably to call the cops. OP is right; the doctor shouldn't have turned Harry in.
** 1970s, people. Nowadays, doctors are only allowed to call the police on a patient if they are a distinct danger to themselves or others. This is when there is clear evidence of suicidal or homicidal intentions, or the patient attacks someone. Back then, drug addiction was considered a sort of mental illness that was looked down upon with fear and misunderstanding. It would have been easy for a doctor to call in the cops on a sick junkie back then. Nowadays, Harry could have sued his ass off and been living in heaven. He could also have sued him for malpractice, considering the bastard didn't do anything about an obvious gangrenous and necrotizing lesion -- although back in the 1970s, the medical profession kinda sucked. Screw the Hippocratic oath.
* So Big Tim won't sell his drugs but will trade them for sex? Does he realize that he can use the money made from selling them to buy all the hookers he wants?
** It could be a power thing; he doesn't want women he can just buy off the street, he wants to control the women who need what he's offering.
** He seems to be doing well enough for himself as it is, maybe he's just such a rich bastard that he doesn't need to sell drugs.
** Not that it matters, because the main characters end up running out of money anyway.
** Big Tim is a pimp, not a drug dealer. He recruits addicts and uses their addiction as leverage to turn them into hookers.
* Couldn't Harry just use another vein? He had lots of them. Or a different spot on that same vein?
** It takes too much time to search for one. He wanted the shot very fast.
** Yeah, it's pretty stupid. Understandable, but stupid. Also, considering the gangrenous and necrotic state of his lesion, I'm surprised he managed to shoot up through the deteriorating and thrombotic veins. Seriously, what a waste, all it is going to do is get trapped in the swelling and inflammation, rather than getting to the spine.
** I thought the same thing, but on a second watch: he's shooting up in a car. He's too addicted to just wait and go somewhere more private, he's got a limited range of movement due to being in the passenger seat and fully clothed, and he's right handed. He can't use his wounded arm to operate the syringe, so that's where the needle has to go in. It could also just be plain ignorance/addled judgment; at that point he's in a lot of pain and he's after the analgesic effect as much as the euphoria, he may be applying it directly to the wound in the hope of getting faster relief. Alternatively, he might think/know that the needle is filthy and he doesn't want to risk spreading the infection to a new site.