Directed by: Marek Kanievska
Produced by: Jon Avnet/Jordan Kerner/Marvin Worth
Screenplay by Harley Peyton
Based on: Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Starring: Andrew McCarthy/Jami Gertz/Robert Downey, Jr. James Spader
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Edward Lachman
Editing by Peter E. Berger/ Michael Tronick
Release date November 6, 1987.
Less Than Zero is an American drama film based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name. Bret Easton Ellis is a very “in your face” kind of writer with his books always revolving around drugs, sex and delirium.
Ellis, published the book in 1985, which was his first published effort, released while he was 21 and still in college.
The film presents a look at the culture of wealthy, decadent youth in Los Angeles.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Julian a drug addict, Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a college freshman returning home for Christmas to spend time with his ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz).The three of them are best friends from college, but soon the out-of -control drug habit of Julian will drag him down.
What follows is a look at the youth culture of wealthy post adolescents in Beverly Hills with a strong anti-drug message, something that never existed in the novel. Apart from the setting and the names, the film has very little to do with Bret Easton Ellis’s book by the same title on which it was based.
Reading Less Than Zero is so much better than watching the movie; many reviewers tend to go this way too.
Norwegian industrial/rock band Zeromancer cited the novel as the origin of their name, with Portuguese metal band Moonspell naming a track in their 1999 album “The Butterfly Effect” names “Disappear Here”, having its lyrics inspired by the novel.
The movie focuses on its strong anti-drug message, something that wasn’t even addressed in the book. . Apparently Ellis refused to watch the movie because of the major departure from his book. However, a more faithful adaptation would have likely turned audiences off, as the material is really bleak as it includes subplots about Clay’s bisexuality and a snuff film that some of the characters watch with great interest. He somehow ended up watching it but insisted on saying that the film bears no resemblance to his novel and felt that it was miscast with the exceptions of Downey and James Spader who plays Rip the drug dealer.
However it is important to make a special mention about the soundtrack: it includes bands like The Bangles with a cover of Hazy Shade of Winter (Simon & Garfunkel), Poison’s cover of Rock and Roll All Nite (KISS), Slayer ‘s version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Iron Butterfly), Aerosmith,Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Glenn Danzig, The Cult,The Doors…
It is not the best movie but if this leads you to more curiosity, firstly make sure you read Bret Easton Ellis books!