So much has been written about the drug culture in books and in film, it’s hard to say how one could go about creating something fresh. Director Steven Kessler attempts the impossible – he recruited two ex-addicts (co-screenwriters Steve Soto and Brady Hart) to share their stories for the purpose of crafting a screenplay about the horrors of addiction. The end result is 5 Up 2 Down, a brutally honest film about the struggle of addiction filled with great performances and harrowing symbolism.
“5 Up 2 Down” is a phrase which references the period of time which one stays up smoking rock or free basing (5 days) and the time they crash afterwards (2 days). Two New York City friends – Hunter (De Bankole) and Santo (Acevedo) – spend most of their time in this fashion. Hunter is an up-and-coming painter on the New York scene and when he gets a $10,000 advance for a show, he gets enough rock for him and Santo to enjoy for the next week.
Santo however, is becoming motivated to stop, as dreams of slavery begin to parallel his own life. So he embarks on one last trip, the trip to end it all. As they both fall further and further into a daze, those closest to them either begin to seek alternative means of affection or just continue to struggle with staying in contact with them. Hunter’s girlfriend looks to a shady bar owner, leaving Hunter in the dust. Santo’s brother tries desperately to get him to visit their sick mother but Santo wants no part of it.
5 Up 2 Down tells a unique story about the world of drug addiction that’s a hit home for those familiar with the lifestyle. Whether you grew up with friends or family addicted or if you yourself have gone through similar experiences, this film will certainly tug an emotional chord.