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Bottled Up (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

Bottled Up

Bottled Up


Starring Melissa Leo, Marin Ireland, Josh Hamilton, Jamie Harrold, Fredric Lehne, Nelson Landrieu, Tibor Feldman, Lynn Cohen, Karen Shallo, Twinkle Burke, Brendan Boyce and Christine Wright.

Screenplay by Enid Zentelis.

Directed by Enid Zentelis.

Distributed by Osiris Entertainment.  84 minutes.  Rated R.

Melissa Leo is such an endlessly fascinating actress that she makes this little independent movie better than it probably should be.  However, while it features her searing work as a guilt-ridden mother who becomes the enabler of her unpredictable prescription-drug-addicted grown daughter, eventually even Leo’s fine work can’t totally save the movie from its storytelling inconsistencies.

In the end the film becomes an intriguing-but-imperfect look at drug addiction and lives of quiet desperation in the rural US.  Bottled Up has some wonderful parts, but they never quite gel together to make a totally satisfying whole.  It is mostly good, but it all seems like something we’ve seen before, often in better films.

Leo plays Faye, a repressed and shy woman who owns a depressing little shop in the middle of a small town in the Pacific Northwest.  The shop does everything from shipping to donuts to piercing, which actually is somewhat representative of the film itself – it can’t just settle on one storyline, it has to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

The main complication in Faye’s life is her grown daughter Sylvie (Marin Ireland).  Apparently she was once a party girl, but now well into her 30s she is still living with her mom and eking out a meager living doing day care for some neighbors’ kids.  She had an automobile accident a few years earlier and due to a back injury she has become massively addicted to painkillers.  The drugs make Sylvie erratic and volatile, stealing to get her fix and lashing out angrily at her mother when she is in need.

Most of the doctors in their small town know what is happening and refuse to prescribe more drugs for Sylvie, instead insisting that Sylvie treat herself through physical therapy.  Nonetheless, Faye takes her daughter from doctor to doctor, sometimes even faking her own pain, to keep the supply flowing.

We never know for sure why Faye goes to such great lengths to deal with her daughter’s obvious addiction.  One throwaway line in the movie suggests that mom may have been driving in the car crash that led to her daughter’s addiction to painkillers, but that is never brought up again.  Sylvie almost never seems to appreciate what her mother is doing for her, except of course when she receives a pill.

Faye is dealing with this when she meets a nice new guy named Becket who is working at the local health food store, an aging hippie who has made it his mission in life to expose local companies polluting the town’s water supply.

Becket’s age is somewhere between that of the mother and daughter – though he’s obviously much closer in age to Sylvie than Faye – and Faye gets it into her head that maybe a nice guy in Sylvie’s life will help her get past her problems.  On a whim, Faye offers to rent the guy a room in their home, and soon he is submersed in the family’s odd dynamic.

In the meantime, rather than becoming attracted to Sylvie, Becket starts to have feelings for Faye.  This only deepens Faye’s feelings of guilt, particularly when she starts to enjoy the attention and the long-absent stirrings of romance.

The story is all told in smart and quirky strokes, and yet the audience can’t help but notice that the plotline feels well worn and doesn’t always add up.

Still, strong acting all around, and particularly by Leo, makes Bottled Up worth a viewing.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2014 All rights reserved. Posted: March 6, 2014.

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