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Written Off

2017
Distributed by The Video Project, 145 - 9th St., Suite 102, San Francisco, CA 94103; 800-475-2638

Directed by Molly Hermann
DVD, color, 61 min.
General Adult
Drug Addiction, Family, Parenting, Drugs


Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 10/5/2018

It will come as no surprise to anyone who follows the daily news that the U.S. is in the midst of a drug addiction crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 115 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses, a number that has steadily and significantly increased every year for the past 5 years. While the numbers are staggering, for each statistic there is an individual story filled with private shame, guilt, sadness and loss. In this moving essay based on personal diaries, filmmaker Hermann chronicles the short life of Matt Edwards, a young man from rural northern Wisconsin. Following a surgical procedure, Matt is prescribed a Vicodin, a powerful pain reliever, and at age 15, he quickly becomes addicted to prescription medications. What follows is a 10-year struggle that turns a smart, funny young man into a thief, liar, inmate, junkie, and – ultimately – a statistic. Along with excerpts from his journals that painfully but truthfully record the slow, steady downward spiral, interviews with family, friends, and co-workers reveal none of the people closest to him understood the extent of his addiction until too late. In addition to the diaries, personal photos and home videos combine effectively with Hermann’s cinema vérité style to call attention to this national epidemic and its destructive societal toll. Recommended for general audiences and substance abuse programs.