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Film / Clean

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"If I want to see Jay I have to change my life. Even if the new life sucks. It's the life most people live."

Clean is a co-production musical drama film released in 2004 and directed by Olivier Assayas. It is the second one to date that he has made with his former wife Maggie Cheung.

It tells the story of Emily Wang, whose boyfriend, a has-been rock singer, dies of a drug overdose. Emily is jailed on charges of drug possession and loses legal custody of her estranged five-year-old son, who is being raised by his paternal grandparents.

When she gets out of jail, she decides to rebuild her life from scratch and to become "clean" so she can win back custody—and, more important, the love—of her son.

Contains examples of:

  • As Himself: Trip-hop singer Tricky plays himself.
  • Cool Old Guy: Emily's father-in-law, played by Nick Nolte. He understands that Jay can't be Raised by Grandparents forever, but also knows that it will be some time before Emily can become responsible enough to care for Jay.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Emily's boyfriend overdoses on heroin, and Emily herself cannot escape the addiction after her release. All of this means that Emily cannot regain custody of her son Jay.
  • Gay Paree: Emily moves to Paris to rebuild her life.
  • Missing Mom: Emily has been absent from her son's life due to drug addiction and strives to get clean so she can regain custody.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Jay lives with his paternal grandparents, since his father is dead and his mother is combating jail and drugs.
  • Recovered Addict: Emily's goal is to quit drugs so she can regain custody of her son.
  • Yoko Oh No: Many people in the rock scene perceive Emily as a latter-day Yoko Ono, and blame her for her boyfriend's fall into obscurity as well as for his death.