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Barry Shabaka Henley
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Catherine Mary Stewart,
Nicole Arianna Fox
An amazing, powerful and passionate story that has never been told in this way.
I grew up in the 1980's, seeing firsthand, as a tween on the brink of adolescence, the devastation that crack cocaine had upon individuals and entire communities. Word on the street was that one hit and you were hooked. I already had an addictive personality, (mine were benign and included candy cigarettes and Atari), so I avoided that one hit because of shear fear. Fear was not a factor for those who found themselves helpless once the drug took control of their decisions, their emotions and ultimately their lives.
1982 takes a more intimate approach at telling the story of the very beginnings of the crack epidemic, focusing on a small, working class family that was literally torn apart and yet never fully dismantled because of the relentless, selfless, valiant efforts of Tim Brown (Hill Harper) - a man who would not allow the drug, or the conduits of that drug, to take away from him all that he truly loved and cherished. This included his beautiful wife Shanae (Sharon Leal), his very precocious daughter, Maya (Troi Zee) and his small business dreams.
The film's composition is unhindered by the usual cinematic flash and exploitative folly seen in feature films and is not at all "overly produced," which is quite fitting, considering the context of when the story takes place a time when everyday life was very different than it is now the 80s. The cast is top notch; the acting, superb. 1982 takes you for a ride through an emotional labyrinth of which we were uncertain to find escape, solace or safety. 1982 glues you to your seat bringing you to level of emotional investment and "presence" as the story painfully plays out on the big screen.
There are so many things I found striking about this film that this short review could easily mimic a thesis-driven cinematic analysis, so let me point out I personally found both significant and endearing the lessons we can learn about enabling, blame and forgiveness the complex, interwoven trio often found in situations where substance abuse is omnipresent in the very fabric of everyday life. Many of us are enablers, but we do it out of love, although its consequences result in quite the opposite. We all look for someone, something to blame in times of crisis and turmoil but often find ourselves empty-handed. We all challenge ourselves to truly forgive, because it is the only TRUE resolution, but our ego often stands in the way.
1982 both addresses and demonstrates how we can best share those lessons with children, in a meaningful way that does not belittle their feelings or disregard their own unique insight and perspectives on such intense, life-changing situations. The film provides a lens from which to view the micro dynamics of a macro level problem and clearly communicates our collective role, as members of a society - as members of a family - in the emergence and pervasiveness of the substance abuse. More importantly, 1982 offers strong messages about the efficacy of hope and the power of love ingredients combined to form the ultimate
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