A Head Full of Wishes

A Head Full of Wishes is a site for Galaxie 500, Luna, Damon & Naomi, Dean & Britta and Dean Wareham. With news, articles and lists of releases and past and future shows.

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My record collection
#111: Clean - Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

This is the soundtrack to the Olivier Assayas film Clean. It has Dean & Britta’s Knives from Bavaria and a couple of songs that Dean made with the star of the film Maggie Cheung.

Clean: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack
Clean: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

I was unaware of both the film, and Dean and Britta’s contribution to it until Dean mentioned in an email discussion:

By the way, the 2 songs I wrote and recorded with Maggie Cheung are now out (I think) on the soundtrack album for the film Clean, available on the French label Naive. The songs are “Strawberry Stain” and “Wait For Me”. Maggie sings, I play the instruments, except for the bass, which is played by Britta. Maggie has a cool voice, she sounds a little like Marlene Dietrich. Just a little. The soundtrack also has a couple of Brian Eno songs, plus the ones Maggie did with David Roback.

Dean then sent me a copy of the album when he’d got hold of some copies. I read the synopsis of the film and thought that it sounded a bit too gritty and rock and roll for my sensitive tastes and decided to make do with just listening to the album!

Knives from Bavaria on the album is the Spoonful of Fun remix by Sonic Boom. Wait For Me of course later turned up on Dean & Britta’s second album Back Numbers.

Now, just to prove my dedication to the cause I decided that it was probably about time to sit down and watch the film, fortunately someone had popped a copy on YouTube so on Sunday morning I sat down and watched Clean. There may be spoilers ahead so if you don’t want to risk it you better stop here.

Maggie Cheung gets fired in Clean (2004)
Maggie Cheung gets fired in Clean (2004)

Now, maybe I should have picked up on the name of the film as a clue that it mightn’t be so dark and negative as I feared.

Maggie Cheung plays Emily, an ex cable video-jockey, who’s rock-star partner dies from a heroin overdose while she’s out getting her own heroin fix in her car. She winds up spending six months in prison, where she meets Gloria and starts making music with her.

Meanwhile, her partner’s parents have taken custody of her son, and when Emily is out of prison she decides that the only way she can get back into her child’s life is to get her own life in order. The rest of the film sees her trying to do that. With support and encouragement from her partner’s father Albrecht (played by Nick Nolte).

It is actually a surprisingly positive film. Emily’s struggle to get back on course, and Albrecht’s reasoned and patient support, had me rooting for her, and worried that it might yet have a downbeat ending.

Maggie Cheung sings (Clean, 2004)
Maggie Cheung sings (Clean, 2004)

Knives from Bavaria plays while Emily searches for some medication to help control her heroin/methadone withdrawal. Maggie Cheung is heard singing two songs in the film, but neither are the songs she made with Dean, but rather those she recorded with the late David Roback (who briefly appears in the film producing Emily and Gloria’s music).

The film is a little fragmented in places, and occasionally feels a little contrived, but on the whole I did enjoy it. Maggie Cheung’s performance is believable and sympathetic, she has such an expressive face. Nick Nolte is perfect in his role as a sympathetic and caring grandfather who wants Emily to succeed.

Becuase the film is set within the music world, there are appearances from musicians playing fictionalised versions of themselves. As well as David Roback, we also see Metric perform Dead Disco at a live show and then the band talk after the show. Tricky is seen, but I don’t think is heard. I’m not entirely sure how Tricky is supposed to help Emily see her son? Another contrivance??

I have previously shared both of the Maggie Cheung / Dean Wareham songs (Dean & Maggie!?)