16 Years of Alcohol
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
16 years of alcohol This artful and introspective examination of addiction and psychological turmoil is just too serious and self-important to reach general audiences. As a young boy in Edinburgh, Frankie (de Caestaecker) is emotionally scarred when he catches his hero father (McCloud) in an act of infidelity. And he's further tormented when as a young man (now played by McKidd) he falls in with a gang of Clockwork Orange-like droogs (led by Blyth) and has a difficult romance with the too-nice Helen (Fraser). Years later, when he emerges from his alcoholic haze, he tries to piece his life together with the help of an acting coach (Carter) and a similarly troubled woman (Lynch) he meets at an AA meeting. But it's not so easy to undo the damage.

Jobson's film is clearly autobiographical in some way, whether literally or poetically, because it taps into real emotions and thorny issues. The problem is that nothing is expressed in a way we can grab onto. We feel like outsiders watching a piece of experimental theatre we don't quite understand. This isn't to say that the film is confusing; it isn't at all. We clearly follow the simple plot, and we clearly see the pain in each extremely well-played character (McKidd is excellent; Lynch is the standout). But the film never touches us simply because it ignores the truth of life. We only see the downbeat scenes, like Jobson is trying to clear his head of ghosts, so he puts them all on screen in a romanticised, belaboured view of troubled childhood, youth and young adulthood. But the pain only resonates when it's set against a whiff of spirit and joy. Meanwhile, Frankie's incessant narration is over-written like a mopey performance art monologue. This is all very frustrating, since the film examines truly important themes with first-rate cinematography and acting. If only the script was able to connect with us.

cert 15 themes, language, sex, violence 7.Aug.03

dir-scr Richard Jobson
with Kevin McKidd, Laura Fraser, Susan Lynch, Jim Carter, Stuart Sinclair Blyth, Michael Mooreland, Russell Anderson, Ian de Caestaecker, Lewis McCloud, Lisa May Cooper, Ewen Bremner, Allison McKenzie
release UK 30.Jul.04
Tartan
03/UK 1h45

Happier pre-drink days: Fraser and McKidd.

mckidd fraser lynch
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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... 16 years of alcohol John Grine, Glasgow: "I really enjoyed this film. Not run-of-the-mill in any way. I like the poetic view of the world it brought. A relief from the usual Scotish-made movie." (14.Aug.03)

Mehul, London: 5/5 "This is a great film, very original, not scared to try and please everyone, and some important messages that would connect with anyone familiar with violence or addiction related family situations. I encourage people to see and judge this film themselves, and not be put off by the critics' low opinion." (30.Jul.04)

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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