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WOW!!!! As a movie goer who watches at least four films per week,
who is very interested in the harrowing politics of the human soul, I can
safely say that there has never been a better movie about alcoholism (no,
not even "Days of Wine and Roses") than "Drunks". When I read the plot
synopsis on the back cover of the tape case, I was expecting some preachy
recruitment nonsense. This movie was nothing of the sort. "Drunks" is,
better or worse, a very realistic treatment of addiction, and of 12 step
programs in general. The format of the film juxtaposes monologues from AA
members during a meeting, with one off- the- wagon evening in the life of
Richard Louis' character (I can't remember his name).
Richard Louis is not one of my favorite comedians (understatement of the year), but he pulls off a tour de force performance here. Due to Louis's textured performance, towards the end of "Drunks" I reached a full
understanding of his character, and the knowledge that recovery isn't just "quitting the sauce", but an individual's willingness to look his demons in the eye, and face up to his own particular hell. The ensemble cast of talented actors (including Calista Flockhart, Faye Dunawaye, Dianne Weist, Parker Posey, and a highly amusing Spaulding Grey) do wonders with their monolouges, which are so well written, you feel like you are there, eavesdropping on a meeting in a Times Square church meeting. I absolutely recommend this movie. I wish that it had gotten more publicity during its original theatrical release.
Maybe the best movie about substance abuse I've ever seen...and I've
seen most of them.
Gritty, realistic, darkly humorous, and deadly serious.
Richard Lewis at his best. Excellent supporting cast.
Watch it two or three times to catch all the subtleties of the various subplots.
This movie is an absolute must-see for anybody in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction. This goes double for those recovering from both.
Also good for friends and loved ones of people in recovery.
An inside peek at the goings-on of an unusually attractive Alcoholics
Anonymous meeting. Richard Lewis's character exists to provide a moral
center for the film as it examines his desperate efforts to stay sober. The
various members of the AA group provide different glimpses at what
contributes to alcoholism and demonstrate that there is no one profile for
what constitutes a "drunk."
There are very nice performances in this film, particularly those of a pre-Ally McBeal Calista Flockhart and Parker Posey. The film's scene stealer and the most memorable drunk of all, however, is monologuist Spalding Grey, doing a hilarious turn as a church choir member who shows up at the wrong church. In the midst of explaining his blunder to the group he rhapsodizes brilliantly on the importance of Guinness in his life and discovers quietly that gee, maybe he too has a drinking problem.
Overall the individual performances divert attention from the main storyline and provide more of a center for the film than Lewis, whose story is ultimately uninteresting. But check it out for Spalding Grey, who is probably the most natural actor in the film and a true pleasure to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Drunks" deserves a better wide release than it received in the early
90's. It's not an easy film to digest, but if "Six Feet Under" can make
us look at mortality, death, and grieving a little easier, than this
film can help others see this disease a little more clearly.
Hollywood has portrayed drunks as lovable figures, whether it be W.C. Fields' characters to "Barfly" (was Bukowski ever truly happy, though, or was Rourke's characterization just an acceptance of a barfly's life? Yet, we all know people who have gone from social drinker to lost in themselves.
"Once Were Warriors." The great "The Lost Weekend." "Reqiuem for a Dream." "Nil by Mouth." "Under the Volcano." Leaving Las Vegas." "Less Than Zero." Thousands of lives have been damaged by alcoholism, and if you ever want to see a real tragedy, look at the people on these screens and, if you see yourself, you might be in real trouble.
Back to the film. Basically, this a film of monologues, yet each contains more power than you might think when you hear the word "monologue." Lewis' performance is of course, great, as the reviews say, but please read his autobiography to discover how far he was from becoming Jim. It is a must-read for any addict, and while not an addict, it has helped me personally with some of my problems. Another great performances include the late Howard Rollins, of TV's "In the Heat of the Night" fame, who also was an addict at various points in his life. Splading Gray, a brilliant actor who committed suicide due to depression, also gives a brilliant performance as a man who wanders upon the meeting, and realizes he is one of them. A young Calista Flockhart and Faye Dunway find the right notes as addicts who need to sponsor each other. Even performances from Lisa Gay Hamilton (TV's "The Pratice")as an HIV positive woman, are damn strong.
That's the key to the film. There may be no happy endings, but there is no preaching, and no sermonizing. Please, I urge you to seek this one out if you ever wonder what a real AA meeting is about, and get it more accessible to your friends who might need it to see it ... or yourself. It's not preachy, but it's a good drama.
I'm off my soapbox: Please see this as drama. And remember if you need help, there is always someone there, don't give up. And hopefully, this film, will help you see that even the most self-destructive person can survive.
Jim (Richard Lewis) attends an AA meeting very worried about something.
His sponsor encourages him to talk. He does...and immediately leaves.
The rest of the movie involves him trying not to drink and it keeps
going back to the meeting where we, one by one, hear each member say
why they're there.
I caught this at a small art cinema way back in 1997 and I never forgot it. It perfectly captures what an AA meeting is like and the stories related are harrowing. Quite a few well known actors play members: Sam Rockwell (still unknown at the time), Amanda Plummer, Parker Posey, Dianne Wiest, Calista Flockheart and Faye Dunaway. Their considerable acting talents make the stories seem realistic and hard to shake off. There's no happy endings here. Grim and disturbing but realistic. Sometime the staginess shows through (you can tell this was based on a play) which is why I can only give it an 8. Still, it's well worth watching.
they say in the program "one day at a time". some days are harder than
others. DRUNKs represents that better than any film i have ever seen. I
am the member of a twelve step program. I think it is one of the
greatest international communities that exists. it has changed
countless lives and i am hard pressed to think or find one person who's
life hasn't been affected positively by it's existence. it is a secular
religion -if you will.
I believe this is the most realistic and resonant film that has ever taken as it's focus the program and it's demographic busting community.
i think the level of talent that came together to make this is a testament to it's quality.
it is not a rose colored take on the community. it reflects as does the program the myriad ways that people use, don't use, succeed and fail.
it is the truth as i experience it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Since Richard Lewis is known primarily as a comic, it was surprising how
well he handled the intense drama in this movie. I think he must have been
drawing from personal experience, at least a little, because it all seems
very real when he's on the screen.
Review speaks openly about plot points that you are better off not knowing...
Movie opens at an AA meeting, at which Lewis reluctantly shares his feelings. Soon after he bolts from the meeting and is on the trail of a bottle, even though he's been on the wagon for two years. The meeting goes on without him, and you get many monologues. They range from excellent (Lisa Gay Hamilton, Howard Rollins, Spalding Gray, Amanda Plummer) to acceptable (Faye Dunaway, Dianne Wiest) to annoying (Parker Posey, Calista Flockhart). Sam Rockwell is very good but does not have that much to do. The sharing of emotions seems a little improvised by some of them.
As the meeting continues, you see Lewis go off the wagon and become a very angry drunk. He goes to a bar he used to frequent and insults the new owner (Christopher Lawford) by attempting to shoot some heroin at a table! Not even in the mens room! But it makes sense because by now Lewis is raw, and I bet liquor hits you like a ton of bricks after being off it for so long.
It comes together at the end, as you see Lewis at a different AA meeting, about to start all over again.
7/10. Engrossing while you are watching it and interesting, but not too much for the memory bank.
Excellent, honest, does not pull any punches in it's grim reality of
addiction and the struggles to get clean.
The writing by Mr. Lennon is so truthful that it does not seem like a movie we are watching, but peeking into people's lives.
The acting and direction were inspired and very realistic. If you want to see an honest movie about addiction and the ravages it causes...this is it. Be ready because it is not some Hollywood sugar coated piece of fluff thatt we are sujected to. Looking forward to seeing more of Mr. Lennon's writing transfered to film...a truly honest and unique voice. Incredible performances by all of the cast. Tight direction as well. Stands up to films in this genre..."Panic in Neddle Park", "Hatful of Rain"...etc...Don't miss it.
I rented this and was very surprised by how good it was.
The writing was so strong and the actors took those words and soared. There is not one false note. It felt like a CASSAVETTES film. Honesty on screen is what I look for in films.
This film felt like real life. Real time. I could relate to these characters. Feel their pain.
Their stories were compelling. I couldn't take my eyes of the screen
My favorite performances were Lisa Gay Hamilton and the late Howard Rollins.
They moved me to tears. I hope this movie gets to be seen by others who are struggling with addiction. The message finally got to me and it is interesting that it came to me in the guise of a movie. I am now going out and buying the DVD and the play that the film is based on.
Thank you to the film makers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I agree with several posters who say that people in recovery should watch this film. I also believe that every treatment facility should show this to the patients/clients based on the raw, gritty and realistic portrayals of addiction and addicts. However, I would be careful showing this movie in a substance abuse program at a men's prison due to the brief depiction of nude breasts. Some of the audience members *may* be distracted by the flash of flesh and forget the true message/intention of the movie. I would also not recommend this film if you're offended by "F-bombs". **SPOILER ALERT - sorta** There's a scene where Jim (Richard Lewis) is "sharing his grief" with a complete stranger at a bar - a stranger who's trying to be polite but wants to escape. Anyway, as I watched this scene with the "Closed-Captioning" activated, I noticed that each new caption on the screen had "f**k" (or a variation thereof) displaying. **END MILD SPOILER ALERT** Here's my synopsis of the film. **SPOILER ALERT #2** Jim, a recovering alcoholic/heroin addict is getting a room in a church ready for an AA meeting. His sponsor (George Martin) asks him to speak since the original speaker couldn't make it. Jim's reluctant to speak, but his sponsor presses him on. As Jim gives a half-hearted lead, we learn that he got sober simply to keep his wife happy. Since his wife has passed away, we can see that Jim's motivation to stay sober has gone as well. We see this as Jim wanders New York, getting wasted on booze. He's so desperate for companionship that he seeks a hooker - who only wants heroin. Jim goes to a park, buys heroin and steals a syringe from another junkie passed out in the park. Jim staggers back to his old bar and attempts to cook the heroin when he's thrown out. The film ends with a thoroughly wasted Jim at an AA meeting admitting that at the end of the day he'll have a full day of sobriety. I feel as though the film is trying to say that even if a recovering person relapses, they can always try their recovery again. **END SPOILER ALERT #2** "F-bombs" and nudity aside, I highly recommend this film to people in recovery and substance abuse counselors as well.
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