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Altered States

Rated R, 102 min. Directed by Ken Russell. Starring William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Drew Barrymore.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Thu., Dec. 2, 1999

Hard to believe that this was William Hurt’s film debut (as well as Drew Barrymore’s). In this uneasy blend of the extreme visuals of director Ken Russell (Mahler, Tommy, Crimes of Passion) and the bloated dramaturgy of writer Paddy Chayefsky (Network, Hospital, who disowned this adaptation of his novel), Hurt plays an agnostic psychophysiologist who’s willing to try anything to find life’s answers: sensory deprivation tanks, mushrooms, you name it. His family, friends, and colleagues are dismayed as his ego gradually breaks down, but this is no trip he’s on – it’s a quest.
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