n "Addiction", Frank Franconeri plays Bobby, a
mild-mannered fellow with an idyllic life in the suburbs, a loving wife who
isn't shy about giving oral sex, and a nice white-collar job in a nice shiny
office building. But Bobby's life is forever altered after a chance encounter
with a mugger ends with the mugger dead and Bobby, who killed the mugger in
self-defense, feeling exhilarated and extremely confused by the exhilaration.
With the mugger's knife still in his possession, Bobby begins to go on nightly
jaunts in the city, seeking out homeless victims to shank. All the while, his
life is falling apart, he's getting visits from his younger self, and he's begun
fantasizing about sex with the well-endowed secretary.
The above premise makes "Addiction" quite
intriguing, and why not? It's an excellent idea for a movie. When it comes to
execution, the film works well for its first 40 minutes or so, but things seem
to fall apart about the same time writer Joshua Nelson treats us to his
character Frankie "shooting up" in his apartment, as Frankie's junkie
girlfriend begs for a share. The scene comes across as more filler material than
anything necessary. After all, it's readily obvious Nelson's script is making
parallels between Bobby's descent into blood-craze and a junkie's crippling need
for drugs. Frankie's scenes with Bobby, confined to Bobby's office, would have
sold the parallel just as well, if not better.
The fact is, the movie should have been confined to Bobby
as he struggles to come to terms with his growing addiction and his need to
understand what is driving him to continually kill. Aside from the Frankie
tangents, we also get another subplot involving a recently fired waitress who
ponders a second career as a street hooker in order to make ends meat. Again,
many scenes with the ex-waitress are not necessary. The movie would have worked
much better had it confined itself to the immediate world of Bobby and Bobby's
growing problem. After a while, I almost forgot what the movie was about.
And maybe it's because "Addiction" fails to
maintain immediacy with its leading character that explains why the film loses
much of the steam it built up in the aftermath of Bobby killing the mugger.
There are a lot of other missed opportunities in "Addiction", many of
which stems from no-follow through involving the script's better ideas. The
mugger, who shows up in spirit form to taunt Bobby, should have returned sooner
than the second appearance he makes at the film's conclusion. Why not keep the
spirit constantly with Bobby, nudging him onto the road to ruins like a devil on
one shoulder? Also, the inclusion of the Young Bobby is a good idea, but
unfortunately the boy can't act. Still, it was a good idea.
"Addiction" has, at its core, an inspired idea
for a movie, and the leading turn by Frank Franconeri (who last showed up in the
slaughterfest that was "Nikos
the Impaler") makes the film worthwhile. But because Franconeri is so
good in the role, it makes the movie's many detours into junkie Frankie
territory all the more frustrating. With the audience invested with watching
Bobby's continued descent, why not keep the movie focused on Bobby? Even
though Bobby's wife, Lisa, is mostly a non-entity throughout the film (owing in
no small part to a weak actress), I would still have preferred to see their
interactions instead of watching two actors pretending to be drug dealers, or
writer Joshua Nelson doing his best "goombah" impression. Drama school
"exercises" belong in drama school exercises, kiddos.
There's a lot to like about "Addiction", most of
which stems from star Frank Franconeri's intense portrayal of Bobby, a man
trapped in a dark place that he's not entirely sure he cares to leave. Director
James Tucker manages some interesting shots, but for the most part the movie
can't quite escape its low-budget roots. The film looks like it was shot with
digital video, or perhaps 16MM, but I can't be certain. Also, I never really
understood what Bobby did for a living, or why his office floor only has two
other workers, not counting Trish the flirtatious secretary and the female boss.
"Addiction" is worth a peek, if just for
Franconeri's excellent performance. It has an interesting premise going in, but
the script takes too many liberties with the audience's time, expecting us to
find everyday minutiae involving a junkie and his girlfriend, and the
contemplations of a laid off waitress, to be rewarding. And while the waitress
and junkie Frankie does affect the movie's final outcome, I'm not entirely sure
their many scenes can be justified when all is said and done.
Finally, why wasn't "Addiction" darker and more
somber in tone? The film seems to sometimes forget its own subject matter. By
the second half, the drama with junkie Frankie and the drug dealers had gotten
much more serious; meanwhile, Bobby's growing addiction to going around shaking
homeless people began to approach black comedy.