The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/events/film/1994-02-04/138932/

Gift

Not rated, 80 min. Directed by Perry Farrell, Casey Niccoli. Starring Perry Farrell, Casey Niccoli, Teri Nunn, Jane'S Addiction.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 4, 1994

There is a scene in this film that may be the most lushly romantic thing I've ever seen on celluloid. It's a wedding, specifically the Mexican Santeria wedding of Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros frontman Perry Farrell and his true love, Casey Niccoli. Set to the strains of the band's “Classic Girl,” the camera swoops and weaves around the blissful couple as they stand in a verdant field while a Santeria priestess shrouds them in holy white smoke. Cut together with various flashbacks of the couple surfing and clowning around on Venice Beach, the emotional resonance here is staggering. Especially when you realize that Casey has just died from a heroin OD, and Perry is reminiscing alone. This “semi-autobiographical” (there's the standard “Any similarity to persons living or dead...” disclaimer at the end of the film, so who's to say?) tale of young junkies in love transcends the familiar trappings of Sid and Nancy docudrama by sheer virtue of talent. Farrell, already excruciatingly well known as musically siding on the side of genius, is, surprise, an excellent filmmaker as well. Beginning more or less with Casey's death, Farrell plays the film out as a series of broken-hearted longings for what was, and, more importantly, what could have been. And despite the frequent shots of scoring and shooting, Gift neither condemns nor condones drug abuse of this scale, opting instead to just let the camera roll and show you the dread that lies just around the next high. There's humor here, too. Farrell's voiceover “rules” of drug use, their visit to a Los Angeles “Dr. Feelgood” character, and other goofy scenes help to lighten the mood of what might otherwise have been an extremely somber film. As if that wasn't enough, long-departed Jane's Addiction are here in some tightly-edited, adrenalized concert footage, including the infamous “Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey” duet with Ice-T from Lollapalooza '90. Farrell, an admitted heroin user in the past, obviously hasn't let his bad habits get in the way of his good ones.

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