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Toxic Love

A group of heroin addicts in Rome spend their time relentlessly pursuing funds for their next score, in Claudio Caligari’s uncompromising portrayal of drug addiction in 1980s Italy, long unavailable in the UK.

Drama 1983 89 mins Not rated

Director: Claudio Caligari



A group of heroin addicts hanging out at Ostia beach in Rome spent theit time squabbling among themselves as they relentlessly pursue their next score, fuelled by petty theft and armed robbery. Their tedious, marginal lives are only momentarily punctuated with the faint hope of getting clean. Employing a candid documentary style and a vivid sun-bleached colour palette, the stark realities of a life consumed by addiction are boldly presented through dramatic scenes of shooting up, coerced prostitution and fearsome overdoses.

Italian director Claudio Caligari’s remarkable debut is an uncompromising portrayal of drug addiction in 1980s Rome, for which he cast non-professional actors who were themselves struggling with addiction, bringing a colourful layer of veracity to the story. Despite winning a prize at the 1983 Venice Film Festival, the film has never previously been distributed in the UK and was largely out of circulation until a new restoration from the 16mm negative was presented at the 2021 Rome Film Festival.