Candid Cinema

AFF ’28: ‘Addict Named Hal’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Life can be extremely difficult to navigate. Almost everyone has something they turn to for stress relief. There can be natural ways and there can be addictive ways to calm the mind. At one point or another, we have all tried something on the scale of vices, but if one has an addictive personality it can spiral out of control. The film Addict Named Hal explores the everyday struggles, joys, and horrors of getting clean. Amy (Natalie L’Amoreaux) was sent unwillingly to a recovery house by her mom. There, she meets Hal (Ray Roberts II), a recently incarcerated heroin addict.

What director Lane Michael Stanley does well is establish how the recovery house functions right from the beginning. We meet Rich (Donato De Luca), who is in recovery and head of household. He is the paternal figure in the home and he has been trying to do the right thing, in order to keep contact with his daughter. Rich is possibly my favourite character in this movie because of how centered he is with his recovery process and how he helps others on his journey. Even though his past life wasn’t the best, and he knows others shouldn’t take any advice from him, he is still there to help others through their own process.

It is always difficult to watch films that handle the subject matter of addiction. What Stanley does is focus in on one night. One night that changes the lives of everyone because all it takes is one decision to alter the course. The build up to that one night, explores Hal and Amy’s relationship. What happens when addicts have conversations with one another about their life, their hardships, and their downfall? The issue I had with this film it that Amy was too young to even be in a relationship with Hal. I can understand why they wanted a younger girl to be put in that position, in order to see the full extent of what drugs can do to someone, but it could have been executed differently, without the relationship being a factor.

Addict Named Hal has a different approach to the subject matter and highlights the pain one goes through in recovery. What this film also addresses is the change in perspective when viewing an addict. For those who are sober around addicts, you can tell the difference of which version of the person is standing in front of you. Once that realization hits, it’s like a punch in the gut because it feels like you do not know them anymore. It’s a difficult watch at times but it’s important to see the shift in perspective and in wanting to actually get help.

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