Less Than Zero (1987)

Less Than Zero (1987)

Taglines: It only looks like the good life.

Clay, an eighteen-year-old freshman, comes back from his first term at a college in New Hampshire to spend his Christmas vacation with his broken-up wealthy family in Los Angeles. His former girlfriend, Blair, is now involved with his ex-best-friend, Julian.

She warns Clay that Julian needs help: he is using a lot of cocaine and has huge debts. What follows is a look at the youth culture of wealthy post adolescents in Beverly Hills with a strong anti-drug message. 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.

Less Than Zero is a 1987 American drama film very loosely based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name. The film stars Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a college freshman returning home for Christmas to spend time with his ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz) and his friend Julian (Robert Downey, Jr.), who is also a drug addict. The film presents a look at the culture of wealthy, decadent youth in Los Angeles.

Less Than Zero (1987)

About the Story

Clay Easton (Andrew McCarthy) is a straitlaced college freshman on the east coast, who returns home to Los Angeles, California, for Christmas to find things very different from the way he left them. His high school girlfriend, Blair (Jami Gertz), has become addicted to drugs and has been having sex with his high school best friend, Julian Wells (Robert Downey, Jr.).

Julian, whose life has gone downhill after his startup record company falls apart, has become a drug addict. He’s also been cut off by his family for stealing to support his habit and reduced to homelessness. Julian is also being hassled by his dealer, an old classmate named Rip (James Spader), for a debt of $50,000 that he owes to him.

Less Than Zero (1987)

Clay’s relationship with Blair rekindles and Julian’s behavior becomes more volatile. His addiction is worsening and since he does not have the money to pay off his debt, Rip forces him to become a prostitute to work off the debt. After suffering through a night of being sick from not being able to score drugs and hiding from Rip, Julian decides to quit and begs his father (Nicholas Pryor) to help him.

He then tells Rip the next day his plans for sobriety, which Rip does not believe; Rip lures Julian back into doing drugs and hooking. Clay finds Julian and rescues him; after a violent confrontation with Rip and his henchman, Clay, Julian and Blair all escape and begin the long drive to the desert so Julian can attempt to achieve sobriety once and for all. However, the damage has already been done; the next morning Julian dies from heart failure in the car.

Less Than Zero Movie Poster (1987)

Less Than Zero (1987)

Directed by: Marek Kanievska
Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr., James Spader, Tony Bill, Nicholas Pryor, Donna Mitchell, Michael Bowen, Sarah Buxton, Kelly Wolf
Screenplay by: Harley Peyton
Production Design by: Barbara Ling
Cinematography by: Edward Lachman
Film Editing by: Peter E. Berger, Michael Tronick
Costume Design by: Richard Hornung
Set Decoration by: Nancy Nye
Music by: Thomas Newman
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: November 6, 1987