Darkness Before Dawn (1993)
Baxter's Lang Road to Recovery
Mary Ann Guard (Meredith Baxter) works at a methadone clinic where she helps heroin addicts to try and kick their addiction and it is where she meets and falls for addict Guy Grand (Stephen Lang) who promises to clean himself up. And for a time things are good, Guy gets clean and they get married but the lure of drugs is never far away and at a party Guy succumbs but so does Mary Ann as she wants to experience heroin just the once, despite having her own secret drug addiction going on. Once turns into more and addiction and they end up having a baby which is born with drug problems. And things just continue getting worse for the pair as they are unable to control their lives spiralling out of control.
This is a two handed review because there are two sides to "Darkness Before Dawn". So on one hand here is a movie which is probably one of the most realistic looks at addiction that you will come across in a movie. We see how for an addict the temptation is always there, the way the need to use increases, the lengths that you will go to get money to buy drugs with and a whole lot more. It is an unsettling movie which highlights how easy it is to become an addict but also how hard it is to kick the habit and doesn't go down any sensational routes with tripy drug sequences but sticks with how much life sucks when an addiction controls you.
On the other hand "Darkness Before Dawn" doesn't really work as a movie, it doesn't have what I would call a storyline which is entertaining, which sort of makes sense seeing it is saying drugs are bad. But as such what you watch ends up coming across like a series of episodes which look at various aspects of an addict's life and as such it doesn't really flow with a constant form of narrative. What that means is that if you sat down to watch "Darkness Before Dawn" to be entertained as well as educated you might feel short changed.
Despite that "Darkness Before Dawn" features two brilliant performances from Meredith Baxter and Stephen Lang. Lang who we see suffering physically from trying to kick the habit at times looks like a wreck whilst Baxter's mood changes are tough going. On the subject of Meredith there is a back story to her character which whilst giving her motive seems almost like an after thought.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Darkness Before Dawn" doesn't quite work as a movie it does deliver one of the most authentic portrayals of addiction and how it controls you that you will see on screen without being sensational.
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