I have been sitting here at the computer all day and thought I would take a break and pick out a few movies on Netflix. I roamed through the romantic comedy category and came across dear Meg Ryan, which led me to gorgeous Andy Garcia, which led me to “When A Man Loves A Woman.”
If you haven’t seen this movie, you must. Whether you are an alcoholic, think you might be, know one, or love one, this movie is heartbreaking. The first time I saw it, I remember crying – not for Meg or Andy, but for my life and what alcohol had done to it, both as the abuser and as the victim.
This led me on a quest for more alcoholic-related movies. Another one, “28 Days,” starring Sandra Bullock, was a frightening look at a life immediately before and through rehab. Her boyfriend, Dominic West, is particularly repulsive as he reveals his need to keep her an alcoholic.
“Leaving Las Vegas,” starring Nicolas Cage is a thoughtful and shocking look at the final stages of alcoholism. Cage goes to Vegas to essentially drink himself to death, but falls in love – something that wasn’t in his plan. A terribly sad story.
Kirsten Dunst stars as a teenage alcoholic in the 2001 film, “Crazy/Beautiful.” Dunst has so many psychological problems in this film that it is difficult to differentiate alcoholism from any of the others. A reflection of the extreme class differences in Los Angeles, the life of a privileged young woman, and her love for a guy from the wrong side of town.
The movie that perhaps had the most impact on me, was made for television, and if I recall, shown during the afternoon as part of an afternoon special series aimed at teens in the 1970s. “Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic” is cheesy and unrealistic, but rings true over 30 years later. Sarah, played by Linda Blair (from “The Exorcist”) was a shy 15-year-old who took to drinking to be a little more social and “fit in.” Her drinking very quickly spins out of control as does her life. Of course, like all television shows, she resolves the issue in 60 minutes flat. At the time, it was a groundbreaking warning to teens across the nation to stay dry, although at the time I think I found her portrayal of a drunk as rather silly.