19 May 2004 | vertigo_14
Harsh realism. (minor spoilers)
Clean and Sober is a sobering drama about the tragedies of addiction. Michael Keaton is Daryl Poynter, a fast-talking washed up real estate who finds an acquaintance in his bed, dead from a cocaine overdose, and himself facing real criminal sanctions after money goes missing. As a drug and alcohol addict, though refusing to admit it, he checks himself into a rehab clinic only to avoid his employers who are looking for the missing money and cops who want to interrogate him about the dead girl. For Daryl, rehab is only a safehouse, not a reality. He doesn't face the fact that he has real problems and needs real help to get back on his feet. Things are whirling too quickly out of control for him to keep up on the outside and his experiences in the clinic are his own, sobering experience.
The clinic is overseen by a former addict, Craig (Morgan Freeman), who is Daryl's counselor who can only help Daryl when Daryl helps himself. Craig tires playing games with Daryl, who has no interest in cleaning up, but only hiding out, and even faces getting kicked out.
Daryl finally wakes up largely due to interactions with fellow residents in the clinic, each having their own horror story about how their addictions tore apart their lives in one way or another, putting them in debt, neglecting their families, neglecting their health and so forth. Daryl slowly starts to witness the reality and stops considering everything to be a big joke. These are real people with real problems, and he's one of them. He even goes so far to try to help someone else recover from the pitfalls of their addictions, befriending Charlie Standers (Kathy Baker), who still lives with an abusive, junkie boyfriend. Unfortunately, for her, she is beyond saving, and her helplessness leads to her own destruction.
After watching Clean and Sober, you can see similarities between the stories as well as the characters among this film, the Sandra Bullock comedy, 28 Days, and the Angelina Jolie drama, Girl Interrupted. It is a powerful, though sad, drama and one well performed by all involved. And, it is, as a previous viewer wrote, "an honest look at real people."