Saturday, November 24, 2012

"The Lost Weekend" 1945: Reviewed

Talk about perfection.
Have you ever finally gotten around to watching a movie and, after it’s over, realized what an idiot you were for not watching it sooner?  That’s how I feel after watching The Lost Weekend.  I haven’t seen a movie this wonderful since Portrait of Jennie way back in July.
For those of you who have never heard of this movie or who might have but are clueless as to what it’s about, The Lost Weekend showcases an alcoholic’s troubles over the weekend.  Of course, that ten word description hardly does the picture justice.  Directed by the wonderful Billy Wilder and starring Ray Milland in the title role, this is not a picture you want to think twice about watching.
Milland, who earned an Oscar for his performance, plays a man by the name of Don Birnam.  Birnam just so happens to be a writer, as well as an alcoholic.  Throughout the movie Don struggles with his alcoholism and his failures in life.  Being a “writer” (if that’s what I can call it) myself, it’s interesting to see how he struggles with the fact that he can never write more than is hardly anything.  Experiencing through his storytelling how his writer’s block and harsh self-criticism drive him to excessively drink really gets to you.  How can a man who has so much potential—he points this out himself when he says he was declared a genius at age nineteen and has had his writings compared to that of Hemingway—let himself slip away so much?
Never having ever been around someone drunk, I’ve never experienced the side effects of too much alcohol.  But the way the movie is written out and shot gives quite the insight.  There’s not just the silly walking around and slurred remarks.  You see the horrible things the alcohol drives Don to do—how it makes him crazy with cravings for just one more glass.  How he’ll pawn anything, swipe anything, do anything just to get a little more cash to pay for the next round of drinks.  The Lost Weekend is about a drunken man, but it’s not a movie that uses drinking to create comedic relief.
In fact, after watching this movie it’s okay to feel slightly offended when movies do do that because it’s not something to laugh at.  Too much drinking can be a serious problem.  I know you’ve all probably heard that at least once in your lifetime from someone—whether that be a parent, police officer, whatever.  But it almost becomes real when you see the hallucinations Don’s intoxicated brain conjures up and you see him pushing away everyone else all because of a bottle of rye.
It seems so many times Don tries to quit but fails.  He keeps resorting back to alcohol.

“Well, the first thing I wrote, that didn't quite come off. And the second I dropped — the public wasn't ready for that. I started a third and a fourth. Only by then, somebody began to look over my shoulder and whisper in a thin, clear voice like the E string on a violin. "Don Birnam," he whispered, "It's not good enough, not that way. How about a couple of drinks just to set it on its feet, huh?”

It drives at him, nags at him, drives him insane.  At one point he says he’s tried to end it all once with a gun and a couple of bullets.  Yet that voice in his head “always wants us to have a drink first.”  And so starts the next round of drink after drink, drunken night after drunken night.  He has a problem, he knows the problem, yet he’s near helpless when it comes to resolving it.
By the end of the film, your brain should be fried, as well as your emotions.  This movie just takes on a ride and never ceases to amaze you.  From the acting to the dialogue to the directing and cinematography, this movie is terrific in every aspect.  It deserves every award it received, as well as any it might one day in the future.

Review Out!

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