Clean and Sober
A man meets a woman in a bar; they do cocaine. The next day, she's dead in his bed, maybe of a heart attack. Is it his fault? The police are interested. "She gave coke to me," he argues, but her father posters his street, calling him a murderer. He, Daryl Poynter (Keaton), decides that although it could have happened to anyone, he doesn't want it to happen to him again. An edgy Philadelphia real-estate salesman, his life centers on cocaine.
Things aren't good at work; he borrowed $92,000 from an escrow account to invest in the market, losing most of it. Hearing about a confidential, anonymous drug-rehab program, he figures it's a good place to vanish into, but the program's hard-headed counselor (Freeman) sees right through him. Poynter's forced to face that his life is wildly out of control due to coke addiction, a discovery he fights every step of the way. He's no model rehab client; he has friends ship him cocaine via Fed Ex, and he goes out on wild missions, looking for women, including a cute patient played by Kathy Baker. She has two addictions: to booze and to a man who beats her, then whines for forgiveness. She clings to the relationship in her low self-esteem, believing the loser she's with is the only man who'll have her.
The counselor's relationships with his patients are at the heart of the movie. Daryl goes to Alcoholics Anonymous on Freeman's order, to get a sponsor - a veteran AA member to advise him. He heads for the prettiest woman there, but ends up with wise, lethargic Walsh, who knows what a lost cause Daryl could easily be.
This isn't the story of ideal recovery; Poynter tells too many lies, especially to himself, and doesn't accept advice. He's still thinks he can fix his life. But as the movie ends, there's hope that he might be able to get straight.
Ordinary people check in or phone AA daily, but the actual process of surrender and recovery is a rare subject in films, maybe because it's too depressing. Keaton brings "Clean and Sober" wild energy, which makes his character less a victim than an accident making itself happen. Surrounded by superb supporting performances, especially by Baker, Keaton makes this story into a particularly touching one.
Glenn Gordon Caron
Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman, M. Emmet Walsh, Tate Donovan, Judd Baker
Cocaine; Twelve Steps
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