Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the upsides of meth? An English teacher’s miserable life shifts dramatically when he confiscates some crystal from one of his students. His Hepatitis B, drunken stupors, and lesson plans quickly take a back seat the second that white smoke hits his lungs.
Setting out into the streets in one of the most pleasant drug trip scenes ever made, Burke’s (Locorriere) adored by everyone he sees and when he meets a pretty woman named Sarafina (Hill), he hooks up with her and they have drug-fueled sex for days and days. Life is pretty great when you’ve got meth. That is, until you start robbing liquor stores and lighting people on fire.
It’s easy to focus on the dangers of cooking meth: handling hazardous materials, getting robbed by tweakers, and getting lit on fire. But couldn’t that all be worth it if it meant getting something you can’t live without? After losing his arms, Avery (Ferguson) begins cooking with some friends of his in an attempt to raise $400,000 to purchase advanced prosthetics. The first act spends most of its time following Burke and Sarafina, but then the attention switches to the chefs for the remainder of the second. The third act focuses on Avery and disproving the misconceptions we may have made about him earlier on.
Director Brandon Nease utilizes a nonlinear timeline to capture writer Jackson Wickham’s complex narrative. Together, they’ve created a Southern noir that houses strong performances from its lead actors, Ferguson’s stands out among the rest, and a deliberate and steady pace. With a running time of two hours and eight minutes, Way Far Gone has a lot to say and tries its best to juggle all of the storylines in a coherent manor.
Ultimately, the film succeeds. And while it doesn’t reach the cinematic and dramatic levels of comparable films, such as Jess Nichol’s Shotgun Stories and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight, Nease’s film is a solid effort that takes chances lesser films wouldn’t. Wickham’s writing style is noteworthy, the character’s dialogue drifts to and from the conflicts, crafting layered characters that the actors portray competently. There’s little in Way Far Gone that really jumps out and captivates the viewer but it’s well-made and hopefully a sign of better things to come.
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