“Do you believe in God?” ^ “Don’t f**k up my high.” ^ – a conversation between two addicts in “Acts of Worship”
Those of you looking at the title for some kind of religious extravaganza are in for a rude shock, though the film does possess the conviction and the lack of subtlety of a true believer. Written and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez, the real subject of “Acts of Worship” is drug addiction.
This is the story of two women. Alix (Ana Reeder) is an educated middle-class white girl. At least until her crack and heroin habit got the better of her. Now homeless, we find her days spent on hustling and shoplifting to support her habit. She never leaves the few blocks of the drug-infested neighborhood that is now essentially her prison.
Digna (Michæl Hyatt) used to be just like Alix until she cleaned up. Now she’s on the verge of becoming a very successful photographer. Still, she remains in the same neighborhood and in the same building where Alix used to live until her drug-addled boyfriend kicked her out.
One day Digna comes home to find Alix O.D.’d on her doorstep. Over the objections of her boyfriend, Digna takes the girl into her apartment, determined to help her in any way she can.
Now you might think you know where this story is going. Like me, you’d probably be wrong. The reality of this subject is that no one gets off that easy. Some of the acting may not be the best and many of the points aren’t made with a soft touch, but damn, I can’t think of another film about addiction with a more accurate view from the inside. Not that I’m saying I would know, uh…forget it.
The film kicks off with a study of just how much maintenance is required for Alix to support her “illness”. “Requiem for a Dream” may have nailed the ritual of hardcore drug use, but “Acts of Worship” nails the need and desperation in a far more naked way. Digna identifies with Alix not only in the tragedy of being a hardcore junkie, but also in that Alix is the only one that truly understands the demons that the older woman must face every day. Sobriety from drug addiction requires its own amount of maintenance, and its usually when you feel you’re almost there and let your guard down that those demons come rushing back in.
Hey, “Acts of Worship” may not be the most accomplished film, but for the right people, it could be a very important one.