The subject of drug use isn’t a novelty in cinema, having been dealt with as far back as The Man with the Golden Arm in 1955, but Addicted to Her Love distinguishes itself with a harsh, unrelenting realism. Director Elliot Lester makes good use of his talented young cast to tell the bleak story of what happens when directionless youth fights ennui with narcotics. Originally titled Love is the Drug (which is actually a better title for this film) it explores the phenomenon of undisciplined, unsupervised, upper-class youth with too much time and money on their hands, similar to 2002’s Better Luck Tomorrow did, but combines it with the stark reality of drug addiction, like a suburban version of Panic in Needle Park.
Our story starts in prestigious Harvard High School, which is a repository of spoiled rich brats. One of the few exceptions is Jonah Brand (John Patrick Amedori), a smart kid who is attending via his brain instead of his wallet. Jonah even has to work a part-time job. He’s a have-not in a town of haves. His single mother (Daryl Hannah of Splash and Kill Bill) is struggling to come up with the finances to allow her son to attend a great college. But shy Jonah is more interested in fitting in with the crowd than in getting into a good school.
Jonah has long had a crush on sexy fellow student Sarah (Lizzy Caplan of Cloverfield), who has never paid any mind to him. Not until Jonah reads a segment of a story in class that reminds Sarah of her absentee actress mom. Soon, Jonah dares to crash a wild party where he knows Sarah will be. He finally manages to make a connection with her, but her rich friends aren’t initially impressed with Jonah. Stuck up jerk Lucas (D.J. Cotrona), promiscuous Erin (Jenny Wade), and Sarah’s burn-out boyfriend Troy (Jonathan Trent) look down on Jonah until they find out he works in a pharmacy and has access to drugs. They allow Jonah to tag along, under the condition that he supplies a quid pro quo in the form of drugs stolen from the pharmacy.
The once studious Jonah gets quickly drawn into the intoxicating and carefree life of the idle children of privilege, who do nothing all summer except party and get high. More specifically, Jonah hopes that being in this popular inner circle will give him the chance to win over Sarah, but she is too stuck on Troy. Jonah becomes obsessed with Sarah. And when Troy over-doses, did Jonah have anything to do with it?
The young cast does an excellent job portraying the aimless rich kids who seek refuge in drugs. Amedori goes from nerd to corrupted innocent to stalker in a seamless fashion. Caplan is both sympathetic and sexy as the object of Jonah’s desire. But the best performance becomes from scene stealer Cotrona as the slimy big-man-on-campus Lucas. Lucas can be likable and charming but underneath it all, he only cares about whatever affects him. He uses Jonah for drugs and he uses Erin for sex. Cotrona is exceptional in the role.
The subject of addiction is in all its forms is the central theme here. Jonah is so obsessed with Sarah that it borders on addiction. He needs his “fix” of her. And practically every young person in the film has a drug habit. Strangely, this movie has been compared to the film to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which is far from the truth. There is little or no humor in this dark examination of self destruction and addiction. Director Lester retains the unrelenting tone throughout and it works effectively here.
DVD Bonus Features
The extras include an audio commentary by director Elliot Lester and star John Patrick Amedori. Also included is a behind-the-scenes featurette where Elliot, along with the cast and the crew, discuss the making of the film. Lastly, a photo gallery of scenes from the film.
"Addicted To Her Love" is on sale August 24, 2010 and is rated R. Drama. Directed by Elliot Lester. Written by Wesley Strick and Steve Allison. Starring Daryl Hannah, John Patrick Amedori , Lizzy Caplan.