Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Inheritance (2024) premieres at Slamdance 2024 January 19

6 years in the life of Curtis and his family

INHERITANCE is going to leave you feeling crushed and bittersweetly hopeful. It is a brutally honest look at life and the opioid crisis in America and Appalachia in particular.  While I have seen a good number of similar films over the years, this is possibly the best portrait of addiction and the toll it takes on addicts and their families that I’ve ever seen.

The film began approximately 10 years ago when Matt Moyer was making a short film and he was approached by JP Boling, the cousin of  Curtis, who is the primary focus of this film.  He wanted to talk about his addiction, prison, redemption and the state of life in his small community.  Four years later Moyer and his wife, Amy Toensing, began filming the family at regular intervals following their path through life and addiction. It’s a warts and all (and then some look) at the lives of everyone involved.

The film was described to me by one of the producers as a documentary version  of Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD. However where the actors in BOYHOOD could walk away, Curtis and his family had to continue living the life when the cameras left. The result is BOYHOOD with poverty and addiction and an emotional punch the likes of which few films of the last decade carries.

I was rocked and moved somewhere else.

My first thought was “Holy F##K”. My Second thought was to email everyone I know who is covering Slamdance and anyone I know who loves docs to put it on their radar.

The power and importance of INHERITANCE comes from two places. First the Boling family is willing to talk at great length about their lives. They not only let Moyer and Toensing film them, but they are more than willing to talk to the camera and tell us, really tell us, what things are like for them. Second they seemingly hold nothing back, with resulting in a look at a life of addiction that is unlike anything I’ve ever run across in the last 14 years of  writing on film. In every other film there is always a sense that something is not being shown or said. That isn't the case here and as a result we bleed for everyone we meet.

I mean that in all seriousness. This is very much not a few months in the trenches, but a decade long haul. It’s a film where life is dark but hope still burns, often just out of reach. It’s the story of people who desperately want to break the cycle and move on, but are just an arms length too far away. The question is will Curtis, the one member who may have the skills to succeed, do so?

A full standing ovation to Moyer and Toensing for not giving us easy answers and not crafting a fake story that isn’t there just to have an ending. Another ovation for infusing the film with the wisdom of the various people we see, allowing them to impart to us the hard lessons they are learning. (This film and the discussions it brings in it’s wake may very well be the redemption that JP was looking for.)

I can’t stress how good this film is. I can’t say how good, but I suspect at year end it will be high on my best of 2024 list.

See this film at Slamdance or where ever you can.

No comments:

Post a Comment