Addict Named Hal Image

Addict Named Hal

By Bobby LePire | October 11, 2022

The title Addict Named Hal is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, the film, written and directed by Lane Michael Stanley, has a character named Hal, who is indeed an ex-con heroin addict. However, this is really the story of Amy, a 21-year-old who refuses to acknowledge that she is addicted to booze. The first-time filmmaker’s narrative follows Amy’s trials and tribulations at a rehab house.

Her mother drops off Amy (Natalie L’Amoreaux) against her will. After meeting the house manager Rich (Donato De Luca), and some of her housemates, including the hardened Marcia (Nguyen Stanton), she wants to escape. But, then Hal (Ray Roberts II) returns to the house after a 30-day lock up. Amy and Hal have instant chemistry, and since he is an old hat at this, Hal promises to show Amy the ropes.

Of course, the road to recovery is neverending and full of hardships. Furthermore, it can only be traversed by someone who wants to, meaning Amy’s even further from help than she knows. As Amy tries to grasp what her friends and mom see as troubling in her, she must also walk the tightrope of knowing the illegal things everyone in the house is doing as well.

Addict Named Hal never goes over the top with its portrayal of such a difficult issue. This tender approach helps each addict feel like a complete person and not just a cartoon to showcase the harms of drug use. It is also why audiences will be instantly taken in by Hal and Amy’s plights, as they feel honest and raw. It says a lot about Stanley that they can bring such humanity to light their first time out.

“…Amy…refuses to acknowledge that she is addicted to booze…”

L’Amoreaux is incredible as Amy, never losing the audience’s sympathy no matter what actions she takes. Roberts II is so charming that it pains people to see him succumb to temptation time and again. De Luca plays the gruff house manager with a soft edge, so one never questions his hard love tactics on his charges.

However, Addict Named Hal does have a few issues, namely odd tonal disparity. Amy’s first meeting is intercut with an addict at the home dancing his way through the kitchen eating yogurt. It is incredibly jarring and undercuts the powerful stories Amy is listening to. A similar thing happens when Amy and Hal are trying to get it on, only to be interrupted. It’s a little goofy, and the ending of that scene feels a tad abrupt.

But the music by Nathaniel Meeks is pretty great. The score will probably throw viewers for a loop, as it is unexpected in a drama like this. However, once that initial shock wears off, everyone watching will realize that the discordant chords represent these people’s inner turmoil. So in that respect, the score is practically perfect in every way.

Addict Named Hal ushers in a new, humanistic voice into the world of independent cinema. While it is not flawless, Stanley’s debut feature is a compelling and heartbreaking watch. The amazing cast, sincere writing, and excellent music combine to make a recovery story more realistic than most.

Addict Named Hal (2022)

Directed and Written: Lane Michael Stanley

Starring: Natalie L'Amoreaux, Ray Roberts II, Donato De Luca, Nguyen Stanton, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Addict Named Hal Image

"…ushers in a new, humanistic voice into the world of independent cinema."

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