Rock Bottom

2007, Movie, NR, 61 mins


Jay Corcoran's short, sad documentary follows a handful of personable, New York-based gay men, several HIV-positive and ranging in age from their early 20s to late 40s, as they grapple with methamphetamine addiction over a period of two years. It charts the ups and downs of trying to get clean and vividly illustrates the lengths to which intelligent people will go to delude themselves rather than face the truth of their chemical dependencies.

Clean-cut Scott, who has a lucrative corporate job that he's about to lose for drug-related reasons, claims he's hooked on the sexual "dark side" meth represents. For Mark it was just another in a long line of party drugs, while Eric admits that even though some of the fun has gone out of the sex-and-drugs scene, he isn't quite ready to give it up. Bearish, HIV-positive C.J. claims he wants a stable domestic life with his long-suffering partner Ben, but regularly gets high and goes trolling for unsafe sex in bars and bathhouses. He eventually hooks up with the much-younger Gio, who likes to party but insists he doesn't have a problem because "I can handle my stuff." Part-time porn star and aspiring club diva J. swears he isn't a "big meth head" (oh, and his first single was called "So High"). Gym rat Raymond has lived with HIV for 20 years and nearly dies from a knee infection, the byproduct of a hard-partying methamphetamine lifestyle. He observes that no one seriously tries to kick it until he's reached rock bottom, and think's he just may have arrived. At least, he hopes this is rock bottom.

By the time Corcoran last checks in with them, one is dead, two have allowed their dual addictions to sex and meth destroy stable relationships, several have been sober for periods ranging from five months to a year. One has cleaned up and relapsed repeatedly. Tearful boyfriends, siblings, parents and friends have tried to intervene, and experts have weighed in with hard facts: Methamphetamine is viciously addictive. Certain gay men are particularly vulnerable, notably those who are socially insecure and define themselves primarily through their sexuality insecurities. And the sex/drugs connection makes the road to long-term recovery particularly thorny, since part of the process is avoiding triggers to drug use, which means avoiding sex. It's not a pretty picture, and it's hard not to come away hoping the best but expecting the worst for Corcoran's personable subjects. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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