The intent of Intoxicating was to make a harrowing film about the effects of drug and alcohol addiction, but film itself is so cliché and predictable that the effect is blunted. This is a sad thing to say, but addiction has never been so mundane, or so melodramatic. One clue is that Eric Roberts (The Last Shot, National Security) has a big role in the film. Roberts usually trolls around in direct-to-video movies for a reason, and it shows here. He has the most painful line in the film, when viewers are forced to listen to him say "aight." Roberts is Teddy, the drug dealer to Dr. Dorian Shanley (Kirk Harris, Hard Luck, My Sweet Killer), a promising surgeon whose personal life is in freefall.

Shanley is addicted to alcohol and drugs. He somehow manages to muddle his way through work, then goes on a steady diet of booze, coke, and women. Things are worse lately. His father William (John Savage, Summer of Sam, The Drop) suffers from pugilistic dementia, and his condition is worsening. Trips to visit William leave Shanley in tears. So he throws himself into his work more, taking on extra shifts and drinking and doing even more drugs. Into this mix comes Anna (Camilla Overbye Roos, Infested, Under the Influence), a friend of Shanley's booty call. Anna is visiting to help take her mind off her daughter, who died in a hit and run six months ago.

Anna looks great, and is nothing more than a challenge for Shanley. He is relentless in his pursuit of her, and eventually succeeds, drawing her into his sordid world. Harris wrote the story, and Mark David (Sweet Thing) directed. There is an interesting grainy look to the film, but that's about all. Every recent film about addiction will be compared to Requiem for a Dream, a horrifying look at the effects of drug abuse. Although the tone and eventual resolution of Intoxicating is different, the way that David and Harris portray addiction is far inferior. To their credit, this film is always watchable, but lingers a lot near the dull side.

They pile on too many contrivances to the Shanley character, throwing in one final 'secret' that supposedly explains many of his motivations. In doing this, they are replacing character development with backstory. They can talk all they want about who Shanley is, but Harris never makes the viewer believe he is a drug-addled doctor. The Anna character is similar. The fact that she is willing to drink, and even allow a drunk Shanley seems very shocking given a drunk driver killed her daughter. She declares her love for him after only knowing him a few days, which seems pretty ridiculous given her character's hesitance. Shanley is a jerk and she knows it, yet the film displays little of his supposed charisma that would allow women to overlook his boorishness. It's a pretty lame character study for both people, and feels like something a wannabe film student would write.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 47 minutes, Not Rated but contains language, drug use, nudity
and sexuality, an R.

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