Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
It’s the kind of thing that could happen to anybody. Just plain rotten luck, really. He picks up a woman in a bar, and they do some cocaine together, and the next morning when he wakes up, she’s dead.
She had a heart attack or something. How was it his fault? What happens to the hero of “Clean and Sober” during the next several weeks of his life is that he decides that although it could have happened to anyone, he doesn’t want it to happen to him anymore.
The guy is named Daryl Poynter, and he is played by Michael Keaton with a kind of wound-up, edgy tension that is just right for the character. He’s a hotshot Philadelphia real-estate salesman, but by the time the movie opens, there is nothing in his life of any importance, really, but cocaine. He doesn’t even question the fact. It’s not that he needs cocaine to function - because he doesn’t function, really; he just goes through the motions - but that he needs cocaine to still himself from the savage, restless angers of his need for the drug.
It doesn’t go over very well that the woman woke up dead in his bed. The police are interested. Although it was her “fault” (“I didn’t give her cocaine, she gave me cocaine,” he argues), the victim’s father plasters Poynter’s neighborhood with posters branding him as a murderer. At work, things are not too good, either, because he has borrowed $92,000 from an escrow account and invested it in the market, hoping to make a lot of money, and he has lost most of the money instead.