🎄Mike🎄’s review published on Letterboxd:
As the great Lionel Bart wrote in his musical “Oliver!” - All in moderation my dears, all in moderation. After all, what’s life without a little bit of fun, eh?”
Mmmmhmmmm! Boy oh boy! Now this is good cinema, is it not? Engaging, charming, lively, well shot, and skillfully acted - this made me excited about contemporary cinema again. Let’s be real with ourselves, most of the films that have come out this past year have been major stinkers. In fact, the majority of films that I truly loved this past year were classic films, Criterion films. But this is really great.
Now let’s get a little deep, shall we? After my freshman year of college, I found myself not really enjoying the major that I was in. I was going to a private college, with a tuition of $70k a year, up to my fucking gills in loans, and just unhappy. So I started drinking about a bottle of Yaeger every two days. At first, I LOVED the effects. I didn’t feel so shitty anymore. I was creating music again, I was reading again, I was watching movies again. I would go outside in the evenings and lay in the grass. I would have animated conversations with my family, and actually enjoy the time I was spending with relatives and friends. It felt like I found who I really was again.
But as the weeks wore on, the anxiety started to creep in through the cracks. Every second that my body wasn’t filled with alcohol, my breathing would get constricted, my palms would get sweaty, and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I was having daily panic attacks - and the only cure was a shot or two of Yaeger. I started to become irritable. I couldn’t go anywhere because every hour I needed that shot or two of Yaeger to function. I isolated myself. I stayed in my room, and saw no one. I barely went downstairs to see my family anymore, let alone go out to see my friends. I was an alcoholic.
And I didn’t want to admit this to myself. My mother had almost killed herself from alcoholism. It was the reason why she lost custody of me when I was so young. In fact, there is a long line of alcoholism in my family, and I was damned if I would be the next in line to let a silly fucking thing like booze ruin my life.
So here I am, about five years later. I’ve gone to therapy every single week since then. I smoke sativa strains of THC to help with my anxiety and ease tension. And every now and then, I’ll sit down and enjoy a small glass of Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch. I learned how to live with my demons instead of casting them out completely. I never wanted to be someone who quit cold turkey and lived the rest of their life denying themselves the pleasures they craved. I didn’t want to go every day waging war against my mind. So, like the character Fagin in OLIVER!, I really learned the meaning of the phrase, “All in moderation…”
This film is about that perfect balance of moderation. Alcoholism can be deadly. But the film doesn’t just portray the negative sides of alcoholism. It shows you WHY people fall into the trap of drinking. It’s fun. At first. You feel alive. You feel creative. You feel sexy. You feel - everything. But sooner or later, that will come back to bite you in the ass. And when it does, fucking hell, does it hurt. This movie explored, really well, the stages of dealing with those issues. And the journey for conquering demons is different for everyone. And we can’t judge those who never make it out, and even those who decide never to touch the bottle again. They have their reasons. I have mine.
The last scene of the film I think summed up a weird relationship that you have with any addiction in your life. You can choose to live with it, let it in and indulge it every once in a while, or you can choose to let it destroy you. But, the choice is to ultimately live life to the fullest - and one must learn how to do that with or without the help of outside forces. So, to life! L’chaim! Barman, another round over here!