Coming to virtual cinemas tomorrow, Friday, January 22:
Sidewalk, Woodstock, Milwaukee, Denver, BendFilm,
An expansive look at America’s opioid crisis.
Drug addiction has long been a serious issue in the US, but our most recent opioid epidemic can be traced back to the late-1990s, with the rise of prescriptions for pain killers. A confluence of factors, including the greedy machinations of pharmaceutical companies and doctors, as well as a depressive economy leading to an increase in vulnerable individuals, set the stage for skyrocketing abuse, addiction, suffering, and death. With opioids impacting not just marginalized communities, media and politicians paid more attention than they would normally – a larger societal problem – but effective solutions to slow or halt the course of opioid abuse have been slow in coming. Ondi Timoner’s film covers a lot of ground, profiling recovering users as well as several individuals trying to tackle the problem, from politicians to attorneys. As with many projects that attempt to address a huge issue like this, there’s an inclination to feature as many stories as possible to illustrate the complexities of addiction, often leading to a cursory or episodic feel. That said, the film’s focus on forward-thinking efforts in two states, Utah and Colorado, to combat the opioid crisis wisely helps to ground the problem. Timoner succeeds in underscoring the need for industry accountability, regulation, and compassionate treatment over punishment if the country has any hopes of seeing the other side of this epidemic.