STINKING HEAVEN (2015)


stinking heaven Greetings again from the darkness. This narrative entry at the Oak Cliff Film Festival takes place in a sober living commune located in Passaic, New Jersey around 1990. It’s a live-in self-help environment that seems to do everything but help, and probably not far removed from the “protective” environments offered by Jim Jones, Charles Manson and David Koresh.

The rules of the house, as administered by married couple Jim (Keith Poulson) and Lucy (Deragh Campbell) make complete sense on the index card, but seem to have little effect on the residents. Kicking off with a marriage ceremony between two members of the group, followed by a family style dinner … the story follows the same path of the origin of the word “Honeymoon” as told by the groom. We see the peak of happiness and then follow the slow descent in bleakness.

Part of the “therapy” involves filming cruel reenactments of life’s low point for each of the recovering addicts. Remember, these aren’t just flawed individuals, but rather deeply damaged emotionally. They are each weak and insecure, and these emotions make for a tension-packed living environment … hardly one that promotes any type of healing.

Director Nathan Silver’s ensemble cast is very strong, especially Tallie Medel and Hannah Gross … both offering hope for future projects. Having never been an addict, I can’t imagine how tough it must be to get clean and stay clean; however, my instincts tell me that group living in a home that makes their own fermented tea in the bathtub may not be the best solution.

 

 

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