'The Fix': Film Review

Laura Naylor/The Fix
Doc about recovery is more convincingly optimistic and character-based than many drug stories.

Laura Naylor follows a Bronx drug addict who finds new purpose as a peer counselor.

Making her solo debut after being one of three directors on the intriguing Mormon-singles doc Duck Beach to Eternity, Laura Naylor tackles a more familiar subject in The Fix, a moving look at addicts who help themselves by helping others. Centered on Junior Alcantara, a Bronx man who is frank about past failures without overdramatizing them, the well-made film will impress fest and small-screen audiences who aren't put off by topics (not just drugs, but Hepatitis C and family trauma) that sound drearier on the page than they are onscreen.

Junior is one of four recovering drug users we meet who are not just fighting addiction but living with Hep C, a disease described here as five times as widespread as HIV/AIDS. All are enrolled in a Bronx program designed to help them counsel others in their shoes, men and women who might not respond as well to regular social workers. Some have lived for decades with the disease, which is rampant among intravenous drug users — hence this effort's home base at a methadone clinic.

Doctors and other organizers supply useful context about the disease and explain the effectiveness of programs whose funding may be slashed by lawmakers. But the picture's policy concerns might fall on deaf ears if not for the compelling nature of Junior's story, which is rationed out smartly through the film. Raised in a straight-laced home, he was devastated by his parents' divorce; he escaped with drugs that soon consumed his life. Having lost custody of his young daughter 10 years ago, Junior is determined to clean up in time to raise a new child and get his family out of the shelter they currently live in.

Junior finds his voice among friends in the nonjudgmental peer training program, then makes his way into a storytelling session run by The Moth. The film gets some drama out of the extreme nervousness he feels about moving from a circle of fellow addicts to an artsy, middle-class audience in Manhattan — but no additional drama is needed in a story we're already fully invested in.

Production company: By the By Productions
Director-Producer: Laura Naylor
Director of photography-Editor: Leland James
Music: Christopher Snyder

No rating, 72 minutes

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