An interesting portrait of co-addiction

There have been a decent number of films over the years that have focused on addiction.  However, Bottled Up is interesting because it focuses less on the addict and more of the co-dependent mother of the addict.  This mother, Faye (Melissa Leo) thinks she loves her daughter by helping her daughter get prescription pills.  She reasons that her daughter is in real pain and if that means pretending to be injured herself to get prescriptions for her daughter, then this is justified in her mind.  Additionally, like many co-dependent people, Faye tends to blame herself for her daughter’s problems and acts like her own life and her own needs are unimportant.  It’s sick but it’s also nice to see the filmmakers recognize that this sort of person is common and does a lot to feed the other’s addiction.

Bottled Up
Directed by
Enid Zentelis
Cast
Melissa Leo, Marin Ireland, Josh Hamilton
Release Date
19 April 2014
Martin’s Grade: B+

Into this messed up home comes a very strange and SUPER-environmentally minded guy, Becket (Josh Hamilton).  He’s so into protecting the watershed that at one point in the film, he seems HAPPY when he discovers chemicals in the water, as now he’s RIGHT—it does need saving!!  He’s very sweet and the addicted daughter, Sylvie (Marin Ireland) is smitten with him—though exactly why isn’t all that clear.  However, over time, Becket becomes far more attracted to the mother.  While she’s clearly much older than Becket, she does have some very nice qualities—those apart from her co-dependency.  But, because Faye thinks her needs are far less important than Sylvie’s, she’s VERY hesitant to have a relationship with Becket.

Through the course of this film, Sylvie makes a mess of her life and hurts a lot of people.  All this is pretty understandable and not unexpected.  After all, she is an addict and would do anything for a fix and to avoid facing her problems.  And, at the same time, it sure looks like Faye will never do what she needs to do to get her daughter professional help.  Again and again, she does the wrong thing when it comes to helping Sylvie to face herself.  Something has to give…and Becket’s presence in their lives might just be the catalyst.

Bottled Up is what I would term a ‘little film.’  I don’t mean this pejoratively in the least—this is NOT a bad thing.  A little film is one with a relatively modest budget and a relatively simple story—but it’s also a film that puts a strong emphasis on the characters and acting and deft direction really come into play.  There are no explosions, nude scenes or insane plot twists to distract from this being a film about people—sick and sad people, but people nevertheless.  It’s the type story I enjoy seeing, but it’s also the type that rarely makes a ton of money, as most theater patrons WANT explosions, boobies and nutty, way-out ideas!  But if you are willing to watch and let yourself enjoy a little film, then Bottled Up would be a good bet.

By the way, some of you might wonder if this film is appropriate for teens.  After all, it’s rated R.  As for me, a PG-13 rating would be far more appropriate.  Apart from a little bit of harsh language (and it’s not much), the subject matter and a reference to sex, I cannot see anything about the film that would offend—and it seems like a pretty good film for teens and parents alike.

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer