Art is a powerful medium for delivering a message. Whether it’s an impressionist painting, a 1960s soul ballad, a great book, or a film, art has a way of reaching the heart and spirit in a way that mere words and dry facts can never seem to match. Over the years there have been some great films that do a fine job of capturing what it’s like to live with alcoholism. Both from the perspective of the person with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and from the people who love them. There is rarely a dull moment when active alcoholism is in play and sometimes laughter is the best medicine. At other times, we may need to be reminded of the tragic possibilities and feel the weight of what’s at stake. Movies about alcoholism can do all of that and more.
Here are 5 movies about alcoholism that you really must see:
Rocketman tells the true story of a man named Reggie Dwight and how, against all odds, he became the internationally, multi-generationally famous rock star, Elton John. It’s a wild ride with some spectacularly choreographed musical scenes and poignant emotional moments. It delivers some powerfully resonant lessons about self-realization and self acceptance. Elton John’s battles with drugs and alcohol are a prominent theme throughout the film, as they were in his real life. It’s an emotional rollercoaster at times, but a truly fascinating story. Even if (somehow) you don’t know Elton John or his music well, he is a fascinating character and this movie about alcoholism, addiction, fame and triumph is well worth 2 hours of your time.
Walk the Line (2005)
Another rock and roll biography in film, Walk the Line opens a window into the life of Johnny Cash. Based on two autobiographies written by the eponymous Man in Black, it covers his early life, his 30+ year relationship with singer June Carter, all the way through the peaks and valleys of his wild career and rockstar life. If there was ever a musician who embodied the torment of alcoholism, it’s Johnny Cash. The man was practically the poster child for hard living. There are few things as uniquely American as a Johnny Cash tune. To this day, his distinctive baritone voice is immediately recognizable. This movie about alcoholism and the rise, fall and rebirth of an American icon will give you food for thought and we think maybe a little inspiration too. If you’re not already a Johnny Cash fan, chances are you will be before the film is over.
A Star is Born (2018)
The most recent movie about alcoholism on our list, A Star is Born is the fictional account of a middle-aged alcohol-dependent singer and guitarist (played by Bradley Cooper) who falls in love with a younger singer (played by Lady Gaga). It’s technically a remake of a 1937 film, which itself was remade in 1954 and 1976, but don’t let that stop you from seeing it. This alcoholism movie packs an emotional wallop and it won SEVEN Academy Awards. Enough said. It definitely does not shy away from the consequences of alcohol abuse. It does a masterful job of illustrating many of the ways alcohol addiction can steal a person’s dreams and damage the relationships they have with the people that matter most to them. Unquestionably a must-see if you’re looking for movies about alcoholism that take an unflinching look at it and really ring with emotional authenticity.
Smashed stars Aaron Paul (Jesse from Breaking Bad) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, whom you may remember played Bruce Willis’ daughter in the Die Hard movies. This movie about alcoholism features a couple who both have an alcohol use disorder. Through the course of the film, they run into a series of mishaps and consequences directly related to their problem drinking. Alcoholics Anonymous is a somewhat prominent feature in this alcoholic movie, which is nice to see because there is more focus on the solution than usual. More often than not, movies about alcoholics are centered around the tragic and sometimes comical misadventures and consequences and we have to wait until the very end of the film to see any sort of redemption, if it happens. Smashed is different in that we get a glimpse of the solution earlier on in the film and get to see how it works in the character’s life. It manages to do that without being remotely preachy or overly optimistic, which is important in order for the message to be properly received. This is a good one for couples in recovery (or considering recovery) to watch especially.
The Girl on the Train (2016)
In mystery thriller, The Girl on the Train, English actress Emily Blunt plays a witness to a serious crime. While the movie is ostensibly about the crime and the impact witnessing it has upon the main character, her alcoholism plays a prominent role throughout the entire movie. Just as it does in real life, alcoholism affects her life on every level. Without giving too much away, we see how the consequences of her alcohol addiction bring drama, stress and tragedy into her life and complicate what was already sure to be a complex situation. This isn’t so much a redemption story as a cautionary tale, but it’s still a good watch and worth seeing. You’ll also find Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe on Friends) and Laura Prepon of That 70s Show and Orange is the New Black in this film.
Getting Help for Alcoholism in Real Life
We hope you enjoyed our look at movies about alcoholism and find equal parts entertainment and insight in some of them. If you believe you or someone you care about may have an alcohol use disorder, Tranquil Shores is here to help. Even if you’re not certain whether or not treatment for alcoholism is necessary, we can help answer your questions and decide what to do. Give us a call at 727-591-4119 to learn more about what Tranquil Shores can do for you and the people you love.