This is the most honest and important drug movie since Trainspotting or Drugstore Cowboy, only grittier and more confined to a day-in-the-life-of three addicts. A road movie for junkies, and a hilariously dark niche comedy. Personally, I dug every minute of it, and I hope more people check it out.
Three junkies drive around LA in a beat up Volvo, on a mission to score heroin before the pained desperation of dope sickness takes over.
Written, directed, acted by recovering addicts (director and star Tommy Swerdlow is a veteran Hollywood screenwriter who met the other guys in rehab) this gives the characters and situations an unfiltered authenticity. Sure, there’s exaggeration for entertainment’s sake, but the brilliant thing about this movie is how it uses humor to portray the 9-5 job of being a junkie without glamorizing or trivializing the life. It’s the drug movie America doesn’t know it needs right now.
The film was shot guerrilla style on the streets of LA; busy avenues, rugged alleyways, and indoor swap meets, where real-life extras stand in the background of the shot, intrigued by the camera. This kind of filming gives the scenes a real-world grit and is a testament to the its indie spirit.
The cast is brilliant. Many scenes are confined to the beat up Volvo, but the chemistry between the three leads makes whatever’s happening (or not happening) fun to watch. The trio (Tommy, Moshe, and Blake) are obsessed with getting money to score drugs, and that crucial necessity is the glue that holds them together. The subject matter may be darker than Mexican tar but the witty banter and irrational antics keep things moving at a swift pace. There’s more than a few clever moments of character development as well, where each character slips beyond the surface to unveil their deeper dimension.
The score’s comprised of acoustic Mexican folk tunes and instrumental jams that compliment the urban landscape well.
At a time when our nation is in the grips of an opioid epidemic, when 100+ people die of overdoses each day, it’s still taboo to be a drug user. It’s still taboo to talk about addiction in an honest way. We can’t sweep this reality under the flag no more, and whether you believe in the power of cinema or not, it takes guts and heart to make a movie like this. Kudos to The Orchard for putting this movie out, and to the filmmakers for making it.