INHERENT VICES

THE TFR TEAM LOOK AT SOME OF THEIR FAVOURITE DEPICTIONS OF VICES ON SCREEN

This is the end / louie carroll

The debut directorial effort from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is a film stacked full of vices, namely recreational narcotics. hardly surprising considering Rogen is perhaps the most famous stoner in Hollywood. Here, other silver screen stars from within their group of friends are represented as a drunken and debaucherous crowd, contained with a party gone awry at James Franco's house. This Is The End plays up the personas of stars like Rogen and subverts others like Michael Cera, here portrayed as a coke head with a penchant for threesomes. What separates the film from other drug addled visions is the creatively realised representation of being high on screen. Once the apocalypse descends on chez Franco, the natural response from the desperate group is to do all of their supply of drugs in one go. What follows is a psychedelic trip in which bubbles shoot from mouths, rainbows fire flies from the screen and everyone turns a different shade of neon. You get the sense watching This Is The End, that this is probably a pretty accurate depiction of what it's like to do "all the drugs" given the people involved. 

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH / KEN DONNELLY

In Being John Malkovich, Craig Schwartz and a host of other characters become preoccupied with exploiting the mind of the famous American actor John Malkovich, for their own personal gain. Craig (John Cusack) stumbles upon a magical portal in his workplace which, when entered, gives the user the bizarre experience of living life through the eyes and mind of the actor John Malkovich, for fifteen minutes. Craig then brings his wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) to experience the portal. The experience gives Lotte the ability to escape from her mundane and deeply unsatisfying life and leads her to distance herself from Craig. Lotte and Craig also agree to sell the experience to the public which leads to phenomenal demand. The ability to experience life through the eyes of someone else is immensely appealing to many people who couldn’t care less about the man whose mind they are exploiting. Ultimately, it appears that the initial use of the portal is the downfall of the characters that use it. It becomes clear that everyday life, for those who avail of the portal, becomes more and more unsatisfying. They become obsessed with the thrill of being someone else and leave behind any prospect of becoming content with their own original identity.

ADAM AND PAUL / Liam farrell

Addiction takes centre stage in Lenny Abrahamson’s Dublin odyssey, depicting a day in the capital as seen through the eyes of the eponymous junkies who meander from one hare brained scheme to the next in search of a precious score. The film is darkly hilarious, bringing to the screen a cast of characters from an all-too familiar but rarely spotlighted periphery of the city. It is an extremely unglamorous depiction of drug addiction, as the pair’s efforts become increasingly desperate, sliding from laughably pathetic attempts at shoplifting and stealing handbags, to one utterly reprehensible and harrowing scene involving a particularly malicious mugging. Tom Murphy and Mark O’Halloran are terrific in the central roles, resembling a dead-eyed, grimy Laurel and Hardy, constantly squabbling but completely dependent on one another, and it is due to their performances that the characters win out sympathy, even if their actions make it impossible to respect them. Ultimately, Adam & Paul is an extremely raw and moving portrait of heroin addiction, stripped of the stylistic flourishes of films like Trainspotting, which leaves us with a powerful sense of lives destroyed by dependency, and a pair of childhood friends left pitifully hollow and ghostly in pursuit of vice.

JUNO / CLARE MARTIN

Sometimes in film a character appears who is so blandly good-natured that their vice is fittingly as milquetoast as their personality. Juno’s Paulie Bleeker is such a sweet, inoffensive kid that when the titular character tells her dad that Bleeker impregnated her, papa Juno incredulously remarks that, “I didn’t think he had it in him.” However, Bleeker’s one vice is not unprotected teenage sex; it’s orange Tic-Tacs. That’s right, his one weakness are those tangy one calorie breath mints. The film’s screenwriter Diablo Cody originally chose Bleeker’s strange addiction as homage to a high school boyfriend of hers who also found Tic-Tacs irresistible. The orange Tic-Tacs prove to be a strange motif throughout Juno. The film is steeped in warm, autumn colors, and the movie starts with Juno tasting the citrusy sweetness of the mints on meek Bleek’s breath the night he slips her the sausage. Near the end of the film, as an apology Juno stuffs a hundred boxes of Tic-Tacs in Bleeker’s mailbox. The orange mints seem to prove that, no matter what teenage blunders he commits while navigating through the emotional minefield of impregnating his best friend, Bleeker is a good kid at heart, sweet even in his vices.

SHAME / EOIN MOORE

Steve McQueen's Shame, starring Michael Fassbender as a sex addicted businessman, is possibly best known for its graphic and at times disturbing depictions of sex acts. Fassbender gives into his desperate urges with a variety of people in scenes of visually striking debauchery and depravity. However it is in the quieter scenes which surround these instances - of Fassbender taking the subway, working, and jogging - that best convey the all consuming urge that overcomes him. Fassbender's subdued silence, paired with subtle, yearning glances and the deafening pulse of his restrained breaths, acutely illustrate the intensity of this barely contained hunger. In this way, Shame is a tremendous achievement in portraying the realities of addiction, as something that does not simply exist in the moments when it is succumbed to. As the addiction is fed, and strengthened, every moment of the addict's life becomes a fiercer battle for control. In Fassbender's tortured performance and McQueen's measured, precise filmmaking, Shame gives us an insight into addiction as an ever pressing burden. It dominates every moment of restraint in its thundering absence.