September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, as proclaimed by the President of the United States. The President set aside the month to encourage people to pay special attention to those who seek help to recover from their alcohol addiction and drug addiction to take back over their lives. It is also a time to support these people and help them know they are not alone as they face this challenge.
Alcohol and drug addiction has received many depictions in movies as well. With the month upon us dedicated to the healing process, here is a look at some of the key films that approaches this difficult subject matter.
“Requiem for a Dream”
If there is one movie that every high school student should watch to scare them straight when it comes to drug addiction, it is “Requiem for a Dream.” Darren Aronofsky directed this film about three friends, and one of their mothers, who all suffer from a form of drug addiction. It is a movie that remains hard to watch, one without a happy ending, where all four individuals find themselves destroyed by drug addiction.
Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans star as three friends, enamored to the drug heroin, while Ellen Burstyn portrays an older woman hooked on weight loss pills and amphetamines in order to regain her youthful appearance.
“Leaving Las Vegas”
With all the over-the-top performances in Nic Cage’s career, it is hard to believe that he is an Oscar winning actor. It was “Leaving Las Vegas” that Cage won his golden statue for, portraying a suicidal alcoholic who goes to Las Vegas with the intention of drinking himself to death. In Vegas, he meets a hardened prostitute played by Elisabeth Shue, and together they develop a strange and un-redemptive relationship. The movie shows how alcohol can kill a person, ironic since the author of the novel on which the movie is based committed suicide shortly after the movie’s production began.
“The Lost Weekend”
Billy Wilder, a director who mostly made comedies, worked early in his career on more dramatic works. One of those earlier movies was “The Lost Weekend” in 1945, based on the novel of the same name by Charles R. Jackson. The movie tells the story of an alcoholic writer, and specifically a crumbling weekend where his entire life begins to spiral out of control. The movie won four Oscars in seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.