This file was generated 2002-06-09 04:23 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2002-03-30.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> January 2002 >> The Lost Weekend
The Lost Weekend is definitely among the best message movies in the history of film. I'm sure that sounds excessive, but I'm not kidding. When a movie has an agenda, it's easy for the filmmakers to succumb to overacting and shoddy writing. Fortunately, Billy Wilder is too talented to let that happen. Everything about the film feels carefully constructed, especially the interesting camera angles. Wilder doesn't content himself with showing a messy room in the periphery of the frame. He has the sight line pass through the clutter for good effect. The story is also loaded with deliciously dark humor. The moments of comedy, which overwhelmingly revolve around innocent activities that are quite different when seen through the eyes of an addict, are critical to keeping the tone from being an all-out downer fest. Among the creepiest elements of humor in the film is Frank Faylen's Bim, an attendant at the hospital who seems to enjoy the suffering of his wards a bit too much.
Ray Milland is the movie's focal point as the one losing the weekend. His acting skill is crucial to sell the movie's main points: the desperation when sober and the attitude when drunk. There is a thin veneer of civility and even elegance over the first one, which is one of the more subtle acting modes. Milland is equal to the task, and every tiny little display of disappointment when his next fix gets a little farther away is perfectly done. The key to alcoholism is the helplessness of its victim, and Milland conveys it sympathetically with his blending of blustery arrogance and permanent impatience. Making the character likable to the audience through this rudeness is a great achievement.