Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fantasia '17 Film Review - A Thousand Junkies

Tommy, T.J. and Blake are up early sorted and ready to start their day. It's just after 8 AM and the trio are waiting in a Los Angeles parking lot for their heroin dealer Jimmy to arrive to make them well. As the hour is early the withdrawal symptoms have not started to kick in yet. They pass the time telling stories about the best Los Angeles bathroom for shooting up and argue over mundane daily issues. As time passes they begin to get alarmed. They have been at the lot for almost and hour with no sign of Jimmy. A phone call determines that his wife is in labour so the meeting point has to change. Tommy fires up the one step from scrap Volvo station wagon the friends head to the first of many detours that will make up their day.

Tommy Swerdlow directs a film that is very personal. He is know as the writer of Cool Runnings, Little Giants and Snow Dogs but during that time he was addicted heavily to heroin that on at least two occasions almost cost him his life. His two co-stars in the film T.J. Bowen and Blake Heron were also caught in the depths of the heroin haze. The three met in rehab making the film ring authentic as its content is based on true-life experiences.

During the course of the day resigned that Jimmy is preoccupied the addicts try other avenues to make that needed score. First they hook up with Igor (Dinarte de Freitas) who takes his sisters' last two hundred dollars then lead the group on a wild goose chase in a dry area. After his departure the stakes raise as do the withdrawal symptoms leading to more desperate and pathetic attempts to get money to score peaking with Tommy sneaking to his ex wives house trying to get his daughter to give him a hundred dollars in order to get well.

The dialogue and antidotes for which T.J. and Blake both secure a co-writers credit are the key to the film. Junkies don't do much. They sit around complain, ache and scrounge as they try to get money or items they can sell from anyone they know for that next hit. Its the banter taking about money on gas cards, odd names in contact lists that could be a source to going back to acquaintances that they didn't wrong too badly who can help in this current emergency.

A Thousand Junkies is public service announcement for what you could become if you start down the path of serious drug addiction. There are no glamour points here but instead desperation, pain and hurt. It's not a tough watch due to the smart dialogue, outlandish situations and even a brief cameo by Bill Pullman playing himself forced to give the lend seeking Tommy The hard no. It's about being obsessed with getting that next fixed no matter the cost without the realization that the cycle will continue to repeat until one gets clean.

*** Out of 4.

A Thousand Junkies | Tommy Swerdlow | U.S.A. | 2017 | 75 Minutes.

Tags:  Heroin, Addict, Methadone, Stealing, Drug Dealer, Pregnancy, Los Angeles, Bathroom, Volvo.

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