Flight: A Powerful and Popular Film on Addiction
The engaging film Flight, starring Denzel Washington as Whip, an airline pilot suffering from alcohol dependence, offers viewers a wide range of material to consider—powerful portrayal of addiction, realistic consequences of a disease, the struggle of recovery, emotional turmoil, and hope.
As Ronda Dearing and Molly Rath emphasize in their PsycCRITIQUES review, this film does not take the approach of most addiction films emphasizing the "why" of the addiction, such as abuse/trauma, parents with alcoholism, and/or persistent feelings of failure. Instead, the focus is on the present-day character of Whip, who is facing major challenges and displays his full personality—his addictive behaviors, his positive character strengths, and his struggle to make the right decisions. Thus, viewers see a more realistic, complex human being. Viewers are likely to have a range of reactions to the portrayal, for example, empathy, sympathy, admiration, disgust, anger, gratitude, and pride.
What were some of your emotional reactions to the portrayal of Whip? Did your feelings change as the film progressed?
The film recently won a Prism award for best substance abuse film because of its accuracy in the portrayal of an individual suffering this condition. Would you consider Denzel Washington's portrayal of addiction to be spot-on in terms of accuracy? What would you change?
By Ronda L. Dearing and Molly S. Rath
PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(37)