Heroin addiction is a messy business. Werewolf, directed by Ashley McKenzie, attempts to portray the stark realities of addiction from the perspective of a couple of heroin addicts trying to quit.
Blaze and Nessa are two small town young adults struggling with addiction, homelessness and poverty. They agree to get clean together but their relationship and entire future is put at jeopardy when one of them has trouble following through on their promises.
The premise is interesting enough but the camerawork, specifically the framing, is infuriating. The director uses extreme close-ups and off-centre framing, often preferring to focus on inanimate objects and body parts. Furthermore, she uses static camera placement so that when an actor moves the camera doesn’t follow them leaving the viewer staring at scenery while the action occurs either partially or completely out of frame.
I can only assume that this was either an attempt to be artsy or an effort to simulate the disjointed feeling of being an addict. Whatever the intent, the result is that the viewer is left feeling disoriented and disconnected from the characters. The fact that one of them is highly unlikable doesn’t make the situation any better.
What the film does do right is provide the viewer with a window on the life of a recovering addict and the methadone programs that service them. It also does a good job illustrating the constant dangers of drug addiction by setting up several potential tragic scenarios that never come to fruition. Unfortunately the same remains true for the ending of the movie and if we are being honest I’m not even 100% sure I really understand how it ended.
Either way, the interesting subject matter is certainly not enough to overcome the stylistic failings and the film, like its characters, is a mess.
Werewolf screens on Sunday January 15th and Tuesday January 17th, please visit TIFF.net for ticket info.