Comfortably Numb shows us Jake's struggle to overcome his alcoholism in a rehab center, Promis. After early difficulties, he starts to make progress when he forms a relationship with a ... See full summary »

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Sammi Branson ...
Jake's lover
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Jake
Rebecca Palmer ...
Emma
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Comfortably Numb shows us Jake's struggle to overcome his alcoholism in a rehab center, Promis. After early difficulties, he starts to make progress when he forms a relationship with a fellow patient, Emma. But they are forbidden to see each other after Jake is confronted about his "sex and love" addiction in a group counselling session. This creates more problems, as Jake doesn't understand that his dependence on the relationship with Emma is actually a barrier to his rehabilitation. A night of excess sparked by drugs makes things get out of hand. Jake decides to leave the center and fight his addiction on his own terms. But almost immediately he goes into a pub. It seems as though Jake will fall back into being an alcoholic, but as the film ends, we see that he has returned to Promis, and is determined to make a full recovery this time. Written by lightwards

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Drama

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25 January 2004 (UK)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Good style but difficult to get into and understand
1 February 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When he is eventually confronted by friends and family over his alcoholism, Jake is sent to the Promis clinic in order to get clean. At the clinic he encounters all manner of addictions with people trying to be normal but trapped behind compulsions or addictions. Jake refuses much of the help, but finds solace in another patient, Emma, who comes in with a cocaine addiction. The two begin a relationship together; but it may just be another way of altering how they feel to avoid reality.

Despite having good critical reviews in the paper, when it showed on channel 4 recently it drew only half a million viewers - Porky's 2 got more viewers on the other channel! The fact that it is a drama about addiction that was put on a Sunday night may have been a major part of this, but it is likely also down to the fact that it is simply just not a great deal of fun to watch. The subject is worthy but the plot is severely weak. I never had a real understanding of the characters and didn't feel like the film helped me in it's delivery. The majority of the film played like a look at the clinic and it's workings rather than a look at any of the characters in particular.

I never got a feel for any of them, which is a problem because the direction of the film really felt that the narrative and story of Jake was meant to be the driver. However, with this driver lacking the film becomes a rather heartless series of episodes that I was never able to really feel part of. It never totally helped me understand why fitness was an addiction simply because one of the guys used it to feel happy, or `helping' for that matter. Some viewers will say `you just don't get it' but the idea of films like this is to help others to understand - it didn't.

The lack of a good narrative doesn't stop it being interesting though. The idea is interesting, the individual characters are interesting at the time and the group sessions work well - if only the story the film aspired to had actually come off. As it is, it doesn't and the film feels more like an advert/documentary for the clinic than a story.

Matheson is good as Jake, as Palmer is good as Emma. However it is the use of real counsellors from the clinics and ex-addicts in support roles that make the film feel much more interesting. I didn't know until the end that the support cast weren't actors, but all through I felt that they had done a better job of bringing out the issues and feelings - now I know why!

Overall this is a flawed film. It is directed in typical digital video fashion which, while being good that cheap films can be made, doesn't mean it all needs to feel handheld and shaky! The writing is admirable but it ultimately fails to focus in the way it needed to in order to work as a film. It is worth watching once as the group sessions are good but as a story it is flawed and, sadly, this is to such a degree that it damages the film.


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