Recently released from prison, Tommy (Matthew Shaw) tries to rebuild his life and start anew. His military veteran brother Patrick (Rick Roucoulet) offers him solid work as a tree-trimmer, while his brother Ant (Tony Shaw) offers more clandestine opportunities. What Tommy really wants is to be a stand-up comedian, however, while reconciling with his ex, Sarah (Rebekah Frenkel). Unfortunately for Tommy, the one constant connecting all aspects of his life is a prevalent love of alcohol, and Tommy is unlike those around him, who have shown more success at remaining functional.
Theodore Collatos’ feature film, Dipso, offers a stark portrait of a man seemingly unable to break free of the family curse. For all his best intentions, Tommy doesn’t have the ability to shut off after just one sip; if he doesn’t get blotto immediately, he will be passed out drunk soon enough. His family seems to be handling things better, but they’re damaged in their own ways.
As one would expect, things don’t go his way. He starts off strong at work, but slowly falls off the right track. And it’s not like the life of a stand-up comedian is immediately lucrative, or even gentle on one’s soul. Tommy would have a rough time of it even if he was at the top of his game; which, of course, he isn’t.
Quietly intense, the film plays its alcoholism in a realistic way. There are moments of melodrama here and there, sure, but for the most part the film expertly captures that creeping alcoholic haze that descends on the drunkard; they’re awake and seemingly with you, but there’s little going on behind their eyes. If you’ve not felt the experience, you’ve probably seen it.
Ultimately this offers up a particularly raw experience, and the film has the naturalistic feel of a documentary tasked with capturing the life of those on screen. This isn’t always going to be easy on the soul to engage with, but it feels honest, and thus it works on a level that defies the forced artifice of performance. You want Tommy to make the right decisions, and in particular the third act has you almost screaming at the screen to get his attention, but the film’s resolution not only feels appropriately realistic, it feels almost preordained.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.