For almost as long as movies have been around, Hollywood has made films that have portrayed the lives of people with substance abuse problems. Needless to say, some of these films are more realistic than others. Alcoholism in particular has been a popular subject for Hollywood scribes because it is the most common substance abuse issue due to the fact that it is legal to buy alcohol everywhere.
If you have a loved one who has been struggling with alcoholism, it may be difficult for you to understand why they have gone down this path filled with misery and despair. Fortunately, there are several films which will give you some insight regarding what your loved one is going through. These movies will also help you to have a better understanding of alcoholism as a disease, not just an addiction. Let’s take a look at three of the best films Hollywood has to offer concerning the subject of alcoholism:
The Lost Weekend (1945)
As mentioned earlier, alcoholism is not a new topic in Hollywood movies. Even though it was made almost 70 years ago, the message of “The Lost Weekend” remains as powerful as ever. “Double Indemnity” and “Some Like It Hot” are some of the classics that director Billy Wilder is best known for. However, it can be argued that Wilder never made a more important film than this one. “The Lost Weekend” is significant because it was the first Hollywood film to focus specifically on alcoholism. It stars Ray Milland in a virtuoso performance as Don Birman, a drunk who is taken to a hospital after he falls down a flight of stairs, only to be exposed for the first time to all of the horrors of alcoholism. The movie also shows the impact that an alcoholic’s drinking can have on the people who love them, as Don’s relationship with his girlfriend disintegrates.
Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick star as Joe and Kirsten, two people who drink socially. Kirsten was never much of a drinker until Joe came into her life. They eventually get married and it is not too long until they have a daughter. As time goes by, Joe’s drinking problem becomes much worse, eventually deteriorating into full blown alcoholism. This leads to a demotion at his job. At this point, Kirsten is not doing much better, nearly burning down the family house as a result of her habit. Joe eventually decides he needs the help of AA to kick his habit. Kirsten never does pull out of her tailspin. The film has been heralded by critics as one of the most realistic portrayals of alcoholism ever committed to film.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
When it comes to movies about alcoholism, “Leaving Las Vegas” is usually the first film that most people think about. The performance by Nicolas Cage is generally considered to be the best of his career, earning him a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Actor. Cage plays Ben, a screenwriter whose alcoholism has caused him to lose everything he cares about in his life. His plan is to drink himself to death in Las Vegas. It is there he meets Sera, a hooker played by Elizabeth Shue.
Never sentimental, the film shows in graphic detail the hopelessness of the alcoholic lifestyle. They make an agreement that Sera is not allowed to try to stop Ben from drinking, as long as Ben does not mention what Sera does for a living. Together, the two lost souls form a powerful bond. Each of them is trapped in a bleak existence, leaning on the other for support. “Leaving Las Vegas” does not pull any punches, which is what makes it so memorable.
If alcoholism has become a problem for you or someone you love, seek help immediately. There are many places to get treatment. The important thing is you take the first step. Make the call and get the proper help.