When it comes to substance abuse and drug addiction, Hollywood doesn’t always get it right. Video stores are filled to the brim with glamorized or just downright incorrect portrayals of drug use throughout the past 100 years.
There are moments, however, when direction, script and acting all comes together to create flawless looks at those trapped in the cycle of addiction, and the suppliers who make it all possible. Here is a brief look at some of these films.
The most realistic movies about drug addiction
Drugstore Cowboy -This tale about a gang of addicts knocking over pharmacies was a little heavy on the melodrama, but it did an accurate job of its portrayal of the lengths addicts will go to in order to support their prescription drug addiction.
Midnight Cowboy -One of the first movies that portrayed gritty, urban heroin addiction with all its associated despair on full display. Remains one of Dustin Hoffman’s finest roles, and the only movie with an “X” rating to ever receive an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Requiem for a Dream -A subtly shocking film about the effects of drug addiction on people of all ages. The stand-out performance of Ellyn Burstyn in this film really opened some eyes about drug abuse and the elderly in the United States.
Trainspotting – An interesting film in that it puts some of the most hilarious moments ever seen on film alongside harrowing moments of drug use that really stick the mind years after seeing the movie.
The Boost -Although James Woods and Sean Young played it about 25% over the top, it was still fascinating to watch this totally believable portrayal of a couple on the fast track who is undone by cocaine addiction.
Traffic -Based on a BBC-TV miniseries, this gripping docu-drama dealt with the losing battle in the war on drugs at both a micro and macro level that never ceased to feel real and personal.
The Wire -Not technically a movie, but this HBO mini-series provided perhaps the most realistic look at the ground level of the drug trade, following a group of rival drug dealing gangs on the Baltimore streets, and the police officers who were obsessed with bringing them down by all means necessary.
Last Days -In a story inspired by the final days in the life of Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain, Gus Van Sant’s critically acclaimed film chronicles what happens when the most famous people in the world are left without “checks and balances” in a life overcome by heroin addiction.
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