Thursday, December 6, 2007
The Lost Weekend
The Lost Weekend; drama, USA, 1945; D: Billy Wilder, S: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva, Frank Faylen, Doris Dowling, Mary Young
Don Birnam is a 36-year old unsuccessful writer who never finished any of his novels. He has a girlfriend, Helen, but is unemployed and lives in an apartment that gets payed by his brother Wick, so he is constantly in depression that resulted in an addiction to alcohol. In order to get him away from the bottle, Wick and Helen invite him to a countryside during the weekend, but he runs away in order to drink in some bar. Helen once again begs him to stop but he doesn't listen. He ends up on rehab but runs away and decides to kill himself. Helen stops him and he decides to write a novel about his addiction.
Extremely serious and bitter drama "The Lost Weekend", without a single shred of humor, is a big shift of master of comedy Billy Wilder who crafted a quality made film that bravely tackles the taboo subject and portrays the horrors of addiction to alcohol, or any kind of addiction that causes people to crumble for that matter. Ray Milland masterfully plays the antihero Don who hides alcohol drinks in the toilet or in the vacuum cleaner bag, while Wilder for once abandoned his straight forward approach as a director - since he always claimed he avoided camera tricks that would distract from the pure content of the story - and even decided to show his grotesque hallucinations, like those of a bat or cockroaches coming out of the wall, and even suggestive scenes: one of them is the extreme close up shot of Don's eye while the other is the camera approaching the glass. The film bothers a little bit with it's dry mood and some inappropriate naivety, especially in the unconvincing happy end, but as a whole it's still relevant today and only few will complain about it's brilliant grim tone that shows the hell Don got himself into, which is so effective that the alcohol industry even badgered Paramount Pictures not to release the film. Especially interesting is the character Helen, who says typical, classic Wilder dialogues that are borderline goofy ("You are in love with the bottle. So I have a rival, but I won't give up that easy!"). In the end, the movie won 4 Oscars and 3 Golden Globes, including best picture, director and actor Ray Milland.