Addict (2013`)

The classic story of a delusional, maybe-psychopath, best captured in American Psycho, is given a sort of British re-telling in this stylish, disturbing and very entertaining study, of a man addicted to drinking, smoking, fucking and, er, killing.

Antihero David Pettigrew is a disillusioned sales agent, who is hopelessly in love with his happily married colleague, a kindly young woman who has just gone on maternity leave to look after her newborn son. Taking her place is another, seemingly, kind young woman, who takes a shine to David herself, much to his bemusement.

Though he seems like a normal sort, David is actually, as the title would suggest, an addict. As the story begins, we find him crying, naked, next to a bathtub, wherein a nude, recently murdered, female lies, motionless. Much like Patrick Bateman himself, David lives a secret life, unbeknownst to the outside world. Unlike Bateman, David’s is very much a reality.

Addict uses David’s regular, to-camera video diaries – filmed in his car, at home, etc. – to give a clearer picture of his character, and to flesh out his back-story, which saves the audience from having to listen to lots of perfunctory, meaningless exposition. These pieces aren’t really necessary, though, as it is Paul Kelly’s fearless performance in the lead role that carries the entire film, in spite of its own, sometimes, rather lofty ambitions.

Kelly inhabits the character of David as if it’s his own skin, injecting the mostly likeable, yet troubled, man with a kind of tortured, lonely helplessness. Though it’s clear he wants to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them afterwards, it’s also very obvious that he’s in love with a woman he can’t have, and is channelling all of that anger, hurt and frustration, into a rather pointless, very damaging, routine.

Shot in classic black and white, not reeking of The Human Centipede 2, but not quite boasting the gorgeous cinematography of A Field In England, either, Addict revels in an intricate attention to detail, from the first zoomed-in shot of an insect, to the email David receives from his colleague, who quits after being stood up for a date.

Though a low budget is assumed, it is not overtly obvious, and there are moments when the film genuinely feels like a bigger, more expansive project than it evidently was, especially in the sweeping shots of David in his car, speeding along the motorway. To its credit, it never feels claustrophobic, either.

What sets Addict apart from its contemporaries, aside from its admirable scope, is the standard of acting throughout. Each character feels fully fleshed out, well-realised and believable, from David himself, to the woman he loves, the woman he scorns, and the husband who decides he’s had enough, and pays the ultimate price for standing up to him.

There’s a tendency for British films, which deal with themes of murder, revenge, even psychosis, to go a bit soap-y, and for the characters presented therein to be little more than caricature cut-outs, who appear to have walked straight off the set of Eastenders, and who are destined to return once everything has been settled elsewhere.

Addict creates a realistic, but not exactly kitchen-sink, world for its characters to inhabit and, by keeping the cast small, we are given a real chance to get to know everyone, before everything inevitably turns to shit for them.

Paul Kelly carries the film, his tortured David a likable, charming, yet utterly despicable shell of a man who desperately wants to feel something other than what he is currently feeling. He is completely believable, right up to the point where it all goes a bit too far, before a rushed, somewhat silly ending, that doesn’t necessarily fit the tone, but doesn’t take away from what’s come before it, either.

Not quite the British American Psycho it wants to be, Addict is nonetheless involving, brave, and very gritty, with a star turn from its lead actor that is worth watching the film for alone.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

One Comment on “Addict”

  1. Paul Anthony Kelly says:

    Joey,

    Thank you so much for such a balanced and incisive review.

    I hoped that you enjoyed watching the film as much as I enjoyed making it.

    Thank you.

    Paul Anthony Kelly

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