These movies had been on my radar before I stopped drinking, but as I learned more about addiction and my own story, I wanted to connect with others, read, watch, and listen to as much as I could in order to better understand the wide range of human experience and the many facets of addiction and human nature. Despite being fictional, these movies are based on real people, real stories, and everything else that comes with it. Because I’m sober now, I was able to connect with and comprehend these movies on a deeper level, therefore I’d say they’re highly recommended. Do you prefer reading a book? Book reviews on sobriety are available here.
1. 28 Days
The recovery community loves this one. Young professional Sandra Bullock’s character Gwen wants to party and drink more than anything else. Because of her heavy drinking, she finds herself in rehab, where she’s forced to do things like wreck her sister’s wedding. For her part, she is resistant to admitting she has an alcohol problem, but when she can no longer deny it, she comes to face her problem. Sobriety and the friendships she makes with other residents help her discover herself as a new woman and learn how to maintain a healthy relationship with her long-term lover. However, even if the movie is a touch clichéd, the heart-warming emotion is true and applicable to many people.
Another film showcasing a woman’s struggle to overcome her addiction and become a sober person is shown in this one. Alcohol and drug usage lead to a series of embarrassing incidents for Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her husband Charlie (Aaron Paul), who enjoy a carefree drink-fuelled life of fun and music. Her husband and mother are both skeptical of her decision to get clean, but she finds comfort in the company of other alcoholics who have made the same decision. It’s cliché because it’s true, but those of us with a drug abuse problem will be able to identify with the main character and, in turn, identify with ourselves in the story. Because I was able to identify with the feeling of being out of control, I found several parts of the film difficult to watch. In the wake of her sobriety, Kate’s falsehoods come to light and she begins to rethink her relationship with Michael. It isn’t easy being sober, as Kate realizes, but she is given the fortitude and clarity to face these difficulties head on and prioritize her own health, well-being, and contentment over anything else.
3. When A Man Loves A Woman
When Alice (Meg Ryan) and Michael (Andy Garcia) appear to have it all, they do it with a smile on their faces. But Alice’s ever-increasing alcoholism and unpredictable behavior are causing more and more issues at home, at work, and with the children. This perfect existence is ruined. Alice ultimately acknowledges she needs help after a particularly traumatic occurrence and enters treatment. The hard work begins when Alice returns home and begins adjusting to her sobriety, which she achieves with grace and strength. As her husband is a perfectionist who is used to seeing his wife as helpless and weak, he has a hard time dealing with her being strong and independent. Alice emerges as a caring and fun person, but with a maturity and responsibility that comes with confronting one’s own issues with the help and support of one’s loved ones in this film.
4. A Star Is Born
This film has had a mixed reception, but I found it to be an honest portrayal of the misery that addiction can inflict. Is a country singer’s battle with alcoholism the subject of this adaptation starring Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as Ally? Throughout the film, Jackson’s own issues and struggles with alcohol are brought to light, while Ally’s pain and beauty are shown. Bring tissues because Lady Gaga recently won a Golden Globe for her stunning performance in this poignant film.
5. Walk the Line
Walking the Line is one of my favorite pastimes. As a child, Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) grew up on a family farm in rural Mississippi, where he witnessed his father’s scorn and the loss of his father’s affection after his brother died in a tragic accident. The film tells the story of how he discovered music and became a sensation as a teenager. It’s June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) and his battle with drug and alcohol addiction that take center stage. The movie is based on true events, such as the arrest of Johnny, his overdose on stage, and his subsequent transformation into an angry, resentful, and out-of-control individual. Due of his addiction, he has a deep love for music and for June, despite the fact that she can’t get near because of her fear of hurting him. With the support of June and her family’s affection, he overcomes his agonizing addiction and becomes strong and clean.
6. The Spectacular Now
Upon waking up on Aimee’s lawn after a night of heavy drinking, Sutter (Miles Teller) meets the shy Aimee (Shailene Woodley). Sutter and Aimee’s unexpected romance deepens as they deal with their own issues and plan for their futures outside of school. This is more of a ‘teen movie’ about coming of age, love, responsibility, heartbreak, and chasing your dreams, but behind all of that is the struggle with alcohol, about using it to blot out sorrow and become more confident and have fun. As time goes by, Sutter comes to realize that there is more to life than tinkering around and sipping from a hip flask.
7. Crazy Heart
Ex-country music legend Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is back in the dingy holes and bowling alleys he used to perform in after years of hazy days and boozy nights. Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a sympathetic writer who is in town for Blake’s latest engagement and wants to write a piece about him. When he finds himself attracted to her and falling in love with her, the singer is suddenly faced with a decision that could be the end of his chance at happiness. Unfortunately, he does his best, but he’s back to vomiting in the bathroom and passing out on the floor surrounded by empty liquor bottles. It doesn’t matter what happens, he can’t be compelled to do what his loved ones have been urging him to do.
8. Home Run
Cory Brand, a former Major League Baseball player, is well-versed in the rigors of the game. But off the pitch, his life is spiraling out of control because of the terrible memories of his father’s drunkenness. It is well known that when things don’t go his way, he covertly drinks alcohol before the game. After a DUI and a team ban, Cory’s agent sends him back to the little town where he grew up in an attempt to recover his career and reputation. For the next eight weeks, he must serve as a minor baseball coach and attend the town’s only rehabilitation facility. In the face of this, Cory continues to booze and do the bare minimum to please his agent. Even though he has a youthful team, they help him discover the love of the game and slowly Cory realizes that he must escape from his past. In the end, Cory admits that he can’t stop drinking and begins to take his recovery seriously through faith-based groups, the love and support of his family, and the team of little leaguers that he plays for.
9. Leaving Las Vegas
Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) is an alcoholic screenwriter who drinks himself to oblivion in Las Vegas in this acclaimed drama based on the novel by John O’Brien. After meeting the sultry prostitute Sera (Elisabeth Shue), Ben and Sera form an unlikely friendship in which she can’t ask him to stop drinking and he can’t fault her for her profession. Ben’s self-destruction threatens to overshadow their relationship. Self-destruction and pain are the setting for this love story. Despite Sera’s devotion, even the ferocity of Ben’s desperation to end his life through alcohol cannot break through to him.
Denzel Washington stars as a functioning drunk aircraft pilot in Denzel Washington’s shocking narrative. Based on a true story, the film depicts the pilot’s courageous and incredibly risky measures in order to prevent a flight disaster that would have been devastating for everyone on board. Captain Whip’s life and drug issues become more apparent as the investigation into the tragedy progresses (Washington.) The beginning of the movie shows Whip recovering from a night of drinking and a following hangover by drinking more booze and taking a shot of cocaine. His deception, intoxication, disappointment, and addiction become more apparent as the story progresses. People who are caught in this vicious cycle are depicted in many uncomfortable and stressful situations in this film. After a dramatic twist, Whip’s path to recovery and the end of the story are preceded by a decision that could go any way.