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Directed by Gus Van Sant

United States 1989 100 mins.

Van Sant’s acclaimed second feature is a daring and uncompromising look at outlaw junkie life based on the novel by James Fogle. Set in Portland in the early ‘70s, Matt Dillon gives the performance of his career as Bob Hughes, the superstitious leader of an awkward band of addicts who go directly to the source for drugs by robbing drugstores. Bob’s extended family includes his wife, Dianne (Kelly Lynch), the dim Rich (James LeGros) and his teenage girlfriend Nadine (Heather Graham). With a good dose of black humor, Van Sant follows the group’s escapades, which finally come undone when Nadine overdoses. Understanding that “Just Say No” doesn’t say anything to the drugged out, Van Sant neither romanticizes nor condemns drug use, but probes the addict’s psyche without giving way to moralistic overtures. “Compelling, unnerving and often darkly funny . . . Every minute is vital and alive.”—David Ansen, Newsweek.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.