Over the GW



Seventh Art Releasing

NEW YORK -- Filmmaker Nick Gaglia has based this debut feature on his own hellish experiences in a New Jersey rehab center that subsequently was shut down by the authorities. But while one can readily sympathize with what he must have gone through, it's not enough to excuse "Over the GW," which he wrote, directed, edited and photographed. As has been proved so many times before, good intentions don't excuse amateurish execution. The film recently received its U.S. theatrical premiere at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater in New York.

George Gallagher plays the role of the filmmaker's alter ego Tony Serra, a troubled Bronx teen who is shuttled off to a rehab center in Jersey (the title refers to the George Washington Bridge) by his concerned parents because of his drug and alcohol dependencies. His sister (Kether Donohue) is soon consigned to the same fate.

But what was supposed to be a 30-day stay stretches into 2 1/2 years. The siblings are subjected to brutal treatment at the hands of the center's clearly psychotic director (Albert Insinnia) and his cultlike employees, who deliver physical and emotional abuse in a variety of ways that the film depicts in harrowing fashion.

Unfortunately, the innate power of the story is dampened by a mainly incoherent script, lackluster direction, annoying cinematography that alternates between black-and-white and garish color and ineffective performances. Running a mere 76 minutes, the film seems to depict its characters' incarceration in all-too-real time.