Addiction: A 60’s Love Story
There’s no junkie romance in Addiction: A 60’s Love Story, which makes a clichéd checklist of 1960s debauchery from Max Bornstein’s autobiographical tale of falling into a rabbit hole of drugs and illegal enterprise. The cocky, pensive Bornstein of screenwriter Jason Noto’s voiceover narration contradicts the aimless, feckless pretty boy Ian Harding actually plays, an elite-university dropout who reconnects with disreputable high school buddies.
Clean-cut Max, middle-class Jewish son of a New Jersey doctor, is amazed to see Jay (Brendan Sexton III) as a full-blown hippie and distributor of hardcore pornography, but eagerly signs on as his delivery driver and bagman. Then the rebellious Rico (Ray Santiago), a painter in gritty New York City (his apocalyptic canvases are by the real Bornstein), introduces Max to the wonders of heroin. Of these counterculture story lines, director Tate Steinsiek is more interested in Max’s drug journey than the intricacies of the porn business, and several promising setups go nowhere.
Steinsiek tries to make his feature debut look like a late-Sixties movie, especially when visualizing Max’s hallucinatory state. His background in special effects comes in handy, but the psychedelic color shifts and a manifested demon, combined with the film’s scared-straight perspective (it was originally titled Dynamite: A Cautionary Tale), make these sequences more risible than terrifying. And Max’s conversion to devoted family man doesn’t mesh with the portrayal of his wife, Theresa (Evanna Lynch), as shrill and irresponsible. While Bornstein stumbles along his rocky road to redemption, Addiction lacks the narrative focus to make it more than a glorified home movie.
Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on November 6, 2015 by Breaking Glass Pictures
First published in The Village Voice, 2015.