Heroin probably isn’t the best life choice, as repeatedly demonstrated by Arielle Holmes in Heaven Knows What. Holmes plays Harley, a teenage addict on the streets of New York who’s madly in love with brooding Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones). Their love might be... uh... a little unhealthy, as moments into the film, after an intense makeout sesh, Ilya goads Harley into slitting her own wrists—which she all too willingly does. It's a harrowing, anxiety-ridden scene in a film that's full of them.
Directors Ben and Joshua Safdie discovered Holmes, and it's easy to see why they were mesmerized: She's vulnerable and tough and desperate, all qualities she probably had when the Safdies first talked to her when she was a real-life addict living on the streets. In Heaven Knows What, she's basically playing herself, in a story that she wrote—but I'm willing to bet she'll be just as amazing in her next film, propelled there by an incredible turn in this autobiographical portrait.