Today, partying and getting wasted can easily be brushed off as just “having a little too much fun.” But when one casual drink too often turns to “five-tequila-floor,” that’s when things begin to get scary — not just for people who drink, but also for the other people in their life.
The media often depicts the glitz and glamour of drinking, but few story lines actually dive into the repercussions of excess consumption. If someone you love suffers from alcohol dependency, you know how difficult it is to watch them harm themselves and their relationships.
That’s why we've rounded up six movies that explore how an alcoholic’s behavior affects everyone — and how loved ones support them through it all. Some are lighthearted, some are extremely heavy. All will tell you one thing: that providing constant support can take an emotional toll, but it is necessary if you want to stick together.
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Here are our six favorite films that address alcoholism. (Warning: possible spoilers!)
1. Trainwreck (2015)
The movie starts with Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) at age 9, when her father tells her that monogamy is not realistic. Twenty-three years later, Amy is a writer for a men’s magazine and a huge party girl whose main joy in life involves abusing two things: alcohol and men. But when she meets Aaron, a sports doctor (Bill Hader), and accidentally falls in love, she has a whole new set of issues to work through. Trainwreck follows the ups and downs of a relationship between two people not willing to commit, and the many poor, alcohol-induced decisions that Amy makes.
2. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Leaving Las Vegas shows the incredibly unfunny side of alcohol. After being fired from his job, Ben (Nicolas Cage) moves to Las Vegas to literally drink himself to death. He falls in love with a prostitute named Sera (Elisabeth Shue), who quickly becomes concerned about his drinking habits and urges him to see a doctor. After he refuses, their relationship spirals out of control, ending with a final encounter on Ben’s deathbed. The tragic love story is a reminder of alcohol dependency’s darkest hours.
Leaving Las Vegas, $3.99, Amazon.com
3. The Spectacular Now (2013)
High-schooler Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) has it all: looks, charm, a job, and a beautiful girlfriend. His motto is to live in the moment, until it all comes crashing down. After his girlfriend dumps him for having no direction in life, he wakes up on the front lawn of Aimee Finicky (Shailene Woodley). As you can probably guess, one thing leads to another and they fall in love. But Sutter has a painful past with his father and some serious drinking habits. The Spectacular Now is about a guy who seems like the cool party kid, but who, with Aimee’s help, begins to come to terms with his alcohol issues.
The Spectacular Now, $3.99, Amazon.com
4. Crazy Heart (2009)
Otis “Bad” Blake (Jeff Bridges) went from a country music superstar to a washed up alcoholic who can only book gigs in small-town bars and lives between his Suburban and cheap motels. When Jean, a young journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal), enters his life, Bad Blake begins to get his life back on track, but seems to continue failing. Finally, after Jean leaves him, Bad Blake decides once and for all to sober up, but never gets her back. Crazy Heart is ultimately a tale of loss and redemption.
Crazy Heart, $3.99, Amazon.com
5. 28 Days (2000)
A Special Jury Prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival, Smashed, follows the life of Kate Hannah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an alcoholic elementary school teacher who is married to a fellow alcoholic. After one particular night of drinking (and spontaneously smoking crack for the first time), Kate comes to work too hungover and vomits in front of her kids. She decides to attend AA meetings and quit drinking. Kate starts to piece her life back together, but as her husband continues to drink, her marriage suffers. In the long run, the story has a hopeful message — especially for alcoholics who have loved ones holding them back from sobriety.
Smashed, $3.99, Amazon.com