Alpha Dog

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Screenwriters: Nick Cassavetes

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Nick Cassavetes captures the driving energy and sordid anomie of contemporary youth culture in his unflinchingly told cautionary tale, Alpha Dog. Based on the true story of Jesse James Hollywood, a midlevel drug dealer whose ambition and ruthlessness led him to become the youngest man ever to appear on the FBI's Most Wanted list, Alpha Dog offers a glimpse of the rawness and reality of teenage life on the edge.

The film stars Emile Hirsch as a teenage suburban drug dealer, Johnny Truelove, whose "gangsta" fueled lifestyle of sex, guns, and drugs is far over the top of customary adolescent restraints. When a competitor/client cheats him, he and his posse "kidnap" the client's younger brother, who is more than willing to spend days partying with little sense or anticipation of his fate. But as events spiral out of Johnny's control, the real consequences of his deadly games become inexorable.

Featuring a marvelous ensemble cast that includes Justin Timberlake (whose work is a revelation), Ben Foster (equally so), Bruce Willis, and Sharon Stone, this is dense, galvanizing filmmaking, seething with tension and culminating in a tragedy that would be shocking if we weren't so aware of the kind of world we live in, a place with kids who live without mores, parents who don't have a clue, and ongoing conflict between the lingering innocence of youth and moral disintegration and dissolution.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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