'Addiction: A 60's Love Story': Film Review

Courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures
Just because it's true doesn't make it interesting.

'Pretty Little Liars' star Ian Harding plays the lead role in this real-life tale about a heroin addict working in the porn industry.

Max Bornstein has taken the adage "write what you know" to heart in the film based on his real experiences as a heroin addict working in the porn industry in late '60s-era New York City. Unfortunately, Tate Steinsiek's indie crime drama will probably be of less interest to moviegoers than to the members of Bornstein's family, who, an end title informs, were unaware of his background until shortly before the film's production. A heartfelt conversation over the dinner table might have been a better way to bring them up to speed than Addiction: A 60's [sic] Love Story.

Ian Harding of Pretty Little Liars fame plays Max, who early in the proceedings drops out of college, much to the consternation of his conservative, middle-class parents (Brian Kerwin, Polly Draper). He then becomes a delivery driver for his hippie friend Jay's (Brendan Sexton III) burgeoning and very lucrative pornography business.

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Despite his happy marriage to the trusting Theresa (Evanna Lynch), Max eagerly embraces the sordid new world swirling around him. Although he has the integrity to resist the none-too-subtle advances of a half-naked porn actress, he succumbs to the lure of heroin, quickly becoming addicted. You can pretty much guess the rest of the story, as Max finds himself in a harsh downward spiral involving drugs, a menacing gangster (Michael Badalucco), and a tightening federal investigation. But thanks in part to the tough love of his Old World grandma (Carol Kane), he eventually gets on the straight and narrow path.

First-time director Steinsiek's previous cinematic experience lies largely in the special effects realm — he was a two-time finalist on Syfy's Face Off, and his credits include The Amazing Spider-Man and Sharknado 2 — which no doubt explains his depiction of Max's drug experiences in a trippy, psychedelic fashion that includes faces melting off. It's visually arresting, to be sure, but more than a little dated.

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Other than undeniably looking good, Harding is unable to bring much depth to his role that, if the film had been shot closer to the period in which it was set, could have been knocked out of the park by a young Pacino or De Niro.

Production: Ironclad Pictures, Cranium Entertainment, Yale Productions
Cast: Ian Harding, Evanna Lynch, Carol Kane, Brendan Sexton III, Ray Santiago, Polly Draper, Brian Kerwin, Michael Badalucco
Director: Tate Steinsiek
Screenwriter: Jason Noto, Max Bornstein
Producers: Jordan Yale Levine, Ash Christian, Max Bornstein
Executive producers: David Bornstein, Julius DeVito, Allison P. Rothstein, Michael J. Rothstein
Director of photography: Till Neumann
Production designer: A.R. BrookLynn
Editor: Alexander Hammer
Costume designer: Zulema Griffin
Composer: Aaron J. Morton
Casting: Judy Bowman

Not rated, 90 minutes

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