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Dipsomaniac

The title for this movie is another word for alcoholism. Themes of addiction are always in the background of DIPSOMANIAC, a short film directed by Jeremy Stewart and written by (and also starring) Danny Zuhlke. The movie begins starkly as a lone man, Tim (Ben Rosenthal) gets on a party bus meant for his 27th birthday party. When questioned by Raine (Sue Shaheen), the driver, if he was the only person, he awkwardly acknowledges it and gets on the bus only to be met with his best friend Hal (Zuhlke) sitting in the back and ready to party.

The story is told in parts, which is great for a short film that runs a little on the longer side, as it breaks things up into easier to digest pieces. One thing to say at the top though, is that these characters, story, and themes could easily be spread into a feature length, as the sixteen-minute runtime didn’t feel long in the least. It’s very easy for the combination of “straight” character and “chaos” character to become stale quickly, but the combination of quiet reservation on behalf of Tim’s character and the quick capitulations and seemingly randomness of Hal’s demeanor carry the movie.

The interlude of Raine’s story in the middle of the movie is a welcome respite but could have been lifted out if the director needed to cut for time. One thing that was very relatable of that character, though, was how, in Los Angeles where this appears to take place, a lot of people are doing jobs they don’t enjoy to pay the bills while they pursue other, more meaningful careers. Her brief interaction with the stripper Veronica (played by Louisa Lee) is interesting because it shows how one person is being judged for doing a job they enjoy while the other person is wasting time doing something they obviously loathe. In that circumstance, who really is living their best life?

There is a theme of death that runs through the film. Hal’s mother is dead. He also makes references to Kurt Cobain from Nirvana and has a sticker from the band The Doors on his phone (both lead singers who are part of the 27 Club, and died due to a combination of alcohol, drugs, or suicide from depression). At one point Tim is asked if he’s having a good time. His response is “he could just die”. That quote is a little heavier than the other foreshadowing in the movie, but it all leads to the same place in the end. The dialogue also makes use of the standard alcoholic tropes “I don’t have a problem” in the context of the character literally throwing up from alcohol poisoning.

Somehow the party bus fills up (I guess Hal stopped off and found some people looking to get loaded. It’s not really explained), and the real party starts. The movie plays with camera tricks and glitches to make the Hal and Tim characters sometimes switch places, and to give the illusion of something being not quite in the bounds of reality. In this way, it has a bit of a FIGHT CLUB feel to it, but without all of the inherent toxic masculinity. It’s unclear how much of what the film portrays is actually taking place around the characters, and how much is alcohol and drug induced, giving the whole movie a blackout feeling. It feels like “I’ve seen this before, but I’m only getting snippets the next day”.

The end of this film is something to be seen. The party is over. It provides a satisfying conclusion to Tim’s story and deals with the “Hal of it all”, and the literally depiction of hitting rock bottom brings the entire film to a sobering conclusion.

Dipsomaniac
tt24578796
Directing
Screenplay
Cinematography
Sound
Acting
4.6

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