Review: Heroin(e) (2017)

Screenshot 2017-09-29 12.20.23

A surface look at a very deep problem!

Directed by: Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Those I have allowed to get closest to me, and it is an ever shrinking number, know that I care deeply about the topic of addiction. It has become a hot button topic for me, one of the things I crusade about. Part of that is my field, Fire and EMS, but it’s more people who have come and gone in my life who made me realize that I needed to care more about addiction. They changed the way I thought about addiction, how I processed those suffering through addiction, and created in me a desire to do what I could to help salve the problem of addiction.

It’s for that reason that I don’t want to go too hard at Heroin(e). If this film makes even one person think about heroin addiction differently, or simply realize that heroin addiction is a problem that isn’t going away then this film has done great work. However, on days where I’m not thinking the worst of myself I still like to fancy myself a film critic, or at the least someone with opinions on film. That means I can recognize the potential good at the heart of Heroin(e), and also be aware that it is a very flawed movie.

Brevity is often a good thing, but in the case of Heroin(e) it is the films greatest enemy. The topic of heroin addiction is perhaps too large for even a feature length documentary to unravel. What Heroin(e) tries to do in a short film format is to look at the larger picture through a narrow scope. Unfortunately by doing that Heroin(e) takes little stabs at the myriad of sub topics within the larger heroin addiction main topic. Those stabs scratch the surface, never truly penetrating and giving the viewer the true depth that they deserve. It’s always right there too, the feeling of, “Oooh, just dig a little deeper, just a little deeper, please?” The film never satisfies, it doesn’t leave you just wanting more, it leaves you wanting everything.

There are dynamic people in Heroin(e), people who I wanted to learn more about and spend more time with. I wanted to dig into the concept of drug court even deeper. I am someone who is firmly on the side of rehabilitation and treatment as opposed to prison, and I wanted to see the nuts and bolts of this drug court and what it was truly offering. The problem with Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s film is that is merely offers the front cover of the book without any of the pages that make up the book. She lets her audience know a drug court exists, but she doesn’t actually look at the drug court in any meaningful way. That is the very frustrating essence of Heroin(e) in its entirety.

I would love to say nothing but great things about Heroin(e). This is, as I said previously, a topic I care deeply about. However, Heroin(e) never gives the topic the depth it deserves and as such the film feels hollow and empty. Even the more powerful moments, such as when we see an overdose being worked at a gas station as people are being rung up right next to it, because life doesn’t stop for someone’s addiction, are lost to the lack of a larger scope to the film. Heroin(e) is all surface, while it needed to be nothing but depth.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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