Words by Naomi Jeffreys
It is not often that we are given an intimate look in to the film makers life, in to their weaknesses, this, however is not true in Ruseell Brand’s candid, raw and extremely informative documentary film. Which follows Brand reflecting on his own drug addiction, but also of other recovering drug addicts and alcoholics.
Not only is Brand laid bare in the documentary, warts and all. The audience sees footage of him when he was a heavy drug addict, and sees Brand himself, quietly eating porridge in the Savoy hotel, reflecting on his experiences. There is also a touching reference to the late Amy Winehouse, who appears to be the inspiration behind the film and who was also an addict and a friend of Brand. Her music is played throughout the film, and is a stark reminder of the severity of addiction.
Russell Brand, the jack the lad, who is quick witted, funny but not patronising. Talks to drug addicts, and members of the press. In one particular moment, in a video conference interview, journalist Peter Hitchins (of the Daily Mail) accuses addicts (and by extension, Brand himself) of being a “rich, Western kid, selfishly following their pleasures…” Brand responds: “You’re responsbile for writing for a bigoted newspaper”.
You know this isn’t going to be a bland documentary from that moment on. In every shot, in every scene, Brand is blindingly passionate about finding help, the right help for those who need it. His quick wit, his clearly brilliant mind is all apparent within this film, and therefore makes him human. He has weaknesses, he is aware of that, but he has challenged them and beaten them.
In the closing scenes of this candid documentary film, Brand states:
“My message is for people who have this condition of addiction, if you have a condition of addiction, there is help avaliable for you, regarding addiction in all its forms, as a health issue, as opposed to a judicial and criminal issue. We need to change the laws in this country, and we need to have more compassionate, altuistic, loving attitude of these people with addiction…who with the proper treatment can become active and helpful members of society”.
True words, spoken from someone who has faced addiction and is in recovery. This documentary film is highly informative and lays bare its presenter, but beyond that, Brand tries to make the public aware that addiction is an illness and should be treated as such. For the families who are struggling with a member who is an addict or, indeed a recovering addict. This film will make light of the problems which they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery is avaliable to watch on BBC iPlayer now.