Less Than Zero

The Plot

  • Loosely based off the 1985 controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero tells the story of Clay Easton’s return to his hometown of Los Angeles for Christmas break.  His trip back is far from graceful, for he sees first hand how his friends have fallen into a downward spiral of drugs, prostitution and broken dreams since he left for college in New York only six months prior.
  • As he begins to hang out with his ex-girlfriend turned model, Blair, she informs him that Julian, a close friend of theirs from high school, is now an addict and cannot control himself anymore, constantly under the influence of cocaine.  She asks Clay to speak with him, much to Clay’s cynicism that see’s no purpose in trying to rekindle a friendship with Julian.
  • As the film progresses, Clay begins to witness the self destructive lifestyles of his peers, with Julian owing $50,000 to Rip, his sleazy yet patient drug dealer that has been loaning out drugs to him and watching Blair becoming a shell of her formal self, leaving Clay to challenge the morals of his friends, his city and himself.


What I Liked

  • The film brought about an eye popping portrayal of how addiction robs a person of their humanity. Robert Downey Jr. playing Julian was truly a remarkable performance that acted as the nucleus of the story. He was authentic, acted with passion and was sincere in his dialogue.

What I Disliked

  • After familiarizing myself with the movie and now just recently started the book, I’m partially dissatisfied that the film alienated away from the original plot of Ellis’s novel. While addiction is a theme in the novel, it isn’t the centerpiece.
  • The book’s goal was to chronicle how the “MTV Generation” had divorced themselves from their morals, rotting away in the hot, shiny California sun. The film isn’t as explicit as the novel, detracting from its “lost souls” narrative, which would have been a much more intriguing character study.

Should you see it?

  • If you are a literary enthusiast and an admirer of Ellis’s work, then you’ll be dissatisfied with this movie. Personally, I liked the movie. Some of the acting was offbeat, perhaps more melodramatic than it had to be, but I was hooked in as I watched a group of young people go down a dangerous path in life. If you’re the type who stares at a train wreck, this movie is for you.


If you guys want to know what author Brett Easton Ellis thought about the adaption of his novel, check out the link below!

Bret Easton Ellis on Less Than Zero, Its Adaptation, and Its Sequel Imperial Bedrooms


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