How others will see it. Girls can check out Matt Dillon. Guys can scope a very young Heather Graham, although her role is not major. Kelly Lynch is okay, but not nearly as hot. The nostalgic look at 1971 or so focuses in on large steel American automobiles, and Desmond Dekker's "Israelites," which gets two playings because its only discernible line is, "I don't want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde."
How I felt about it. Drugs, the bad things they make addicts do, and the bad things that happen to addicts. Seems like we've been down this road before, sometimes for better. (The Lost Weekend, The Basketball Diaries) and often for worse (Trainspotting is so overrated, and it's not even subtitled).
I probably haven't seen every movie in this genre, so I don't know if it is an original twist, that bad things happen to the lead only when he goes straight. Sort of like American History X, with drugs substituted for racial polemics.
But in the end, it really isn't important how original a story is. A Star is Born (1954) is a remake, but is vastly superior to the 1937 original. What matters is how well a film is executed. Here, he have a group of capable actors with a capable script under capable direction and a workable budget. End result: a decent film that is watchable, but not memorable.
It's not just the story, which confirms the curse of the hat on the bed (the offender quickly snuffs it), and stages a sheriff convention (they have such things?) in a low rent motel park just when a body needs to be moved from said motel. And isn't it a scream when a curse inspired by the mention of a pet dog causes the television channels (all three of them, since this is 1971) to show nothing but dog images.
The problem, really, is that the director relies too much on Matt Dillon, who gets too many close-ups and has too many druggy philosophizing voiceovers. Compare with Reservoir Dogs, which creates tension by pitting characters against each other. Characters that can be bad through and through, and not merely wishy-washy.