Relapse – The Humor and Heartbreak of Addiction

Over the years there have been numerous movies dealing with the often controversial topic of addiction, from the 1945 Billy Wilder directed “The Lost Weekend”, dealing with alcoholism, to more modern examples such as “Oslo, August 31st”, the 2011 Joachim Trier directed piece which featured a day in the life of recovering drug addict Anders. Sometimes life has reflected art for those involved in the movie making industry.

Celebrity or not addiction is a universal and ageless topic and is the subject of the recently successful Kickstarter project “Relapse”.

*A Kickstart for a Relapse*

The funding period for “Relapse” ended on 22 August 2013 and it raised $12,361 against a crowdfunding target of $10,000. So what is the movie about? As the Kickstarter profile says;

Meet Mark. A quick-witted, intelligent thirty-something. He’s also a drug-addled compulsive liar.

The planned thirty-minute short film and TV pilot will follow Mark as he is released from a ninety-day stay in a rehab facility and has to deal with the trail of destruction that his deceit has created. He is forced to deal with awkward encounters with his childhood friend Steve and his own father who has stood by him over the years. The movie focuses on the humor of the situation combined with the heartbreak.

The cast of “Relapse” includes some familiar faces. Dallas native Stephen Tobolowsky is well known for his portrayal of Ned Ryerson in the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day” and is a veteran of over three decades of TV and movie appearances including “Memento”, “Glee”, and “Roswell”.

Jason Beghe who portrays Mark’s father in “Relapse” is also no stranger to our screens. Over two decades he has appeared in such TV staples as “Criminal Minds”, “Californication”, and “Chicago Fire”. Some impressive credentials for the stars of a movie the production of which will be completed using the Kickstarter funding that will also help to provide finance to allow the movie to enter film festivals across the United States.

*Addiction – The People and The Cost*

“Relapse” uses humor to look at what is a serious subject and it is humor that often helps us deal with difficult situations. Addiction is something that laughter alone cannot cure though. It is very costly both in the health of individuals and the financial implications for the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the approximate addiction related costs, taking into account lost work productivity, healthcare and crime are;

– Alcohol – $235 billion
– Illicit drugs – $193 billion
– Tobacco – $193 billion

The Institute is a useful resource for information in areas such as drug addiction. Addiction can affect anyone in any walk of life but high profile people have the additional issue of dealing with their demons in the public eye;
how often are the names of people like Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen emblazoned across the popular press and electronic media. Whatever public perception is of the individuals involved it is understandable that they may prefer privacy for dealing with their issues.

It is therefore important for high profile celebrities to have an appropriate environment to do so. It is far too easy to judge those who are having difficulties but it is important to have some level of understanding as well as some appreciation of the difficulties that addiction can cause. Movies such as “Relapse” enable such understanding in an entertaining manner.

*Bringing “Relapse” to the Screen*

At the end of the day movies are about entertainment and whilst laughter cannot cure addiction it can be used to raise awareness and appreciation without having a “preaching” feel. The intention of “Relapse” is to use humor in this way. This will all be achieved with director Matthew Lopes at the helm. Mr Lopes also co-wrote the movie with Kevin Close; both men have written for The US TV and movie industry and Matthew is currently script coordinator on Showtime series “Ray Donovan”. They are being joined in bringing the dream of “Relapse” to fruition by producer David McAbee.

The 95 Kickstarter backers of the project are also a big part of the journey. The crowdfunding phenomenon may have its detractors but it allows people from all walks of life to play a small part in the completion of creative projects. In the case of “Relapse” they can take advantage of backer rewards such as a walk-on role or an Executive Producer credit in a movie that will bring humor to the subject of addiction, as well as the sadness.

Author of this article: Lisa Lupton