Film Review: Days of Wine and Roses

A sharp edged informative tale around a couple who fall in love and weave their relationship with the thread of alcohol. In black and white this 1962 film was the first of its kind to speak volumes about the message of the fate of alcoholics. The story is still relevant to the common audience and at times the movie is quite graphic depicting scenes that are all too familiar for an alcoholic. I found it hard to sit in my seat comfortably at the Labia Theatre on Orange this past Sunday the 28th of September in Cape Town, the usual stigma’s pop into mind of shame, guilt and embarrassment.

The pressure of a corporate job with many social functions, challenges the lead Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) His love interest Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick) was not a drinker in the beginning, and her life spiralled out of control after meeting Joe, from pressure to eventual boredom to complete addiction. Both received an Oscar nomination. The cracks start to show early in the relationship with a missing bottle of whisky and sudden episodes of rage at home. Every scene is filled with obvious references to alcohol from glasses to bar signs and clouds of cigarette smoke no 60s movie would be complete without.

Towards the end of the movie there is a change of heart in the couple and the split in decision to find sobriety or not. The motives for either direction are hard to understand still leaving a question mark in the mind. I feel that the reasons why some alcoholics choose recovery or not could have been explored more to round off the ending.

Depiction of the Alcoholics Anonymous is done well with a strong linear story line in principles and practices the organisation follow, such as the choice an alcoholic makes between alcohol and loved ones. It is a lonely cold world in the life of an alcoholic. But one thing is very evident through this message, that there is always a choice to be made and not even true love wins through this battle.

Andrea Steyn
Recovering alcoholic at Cape Fiesta Wellness Centre

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