Denzel Washington plays an addicted pilot with exquisite distinction. He demonstrates the powerful grip of addictions & how hard it can be to release yourself. It is painful to watch his bad choices pile up…….while he teeters on the brink of complete self-destruction.
You watch the lying almost in admiration because he is so damn good at it. You watch him run from any attempts at truth or even brief moments of reality. You watch his girlfriend struggle to decide to hang on to her own sense of reality and not get sucked into his lies to himself.
He is both a true hero and an addicted bum. It is my experience that addicts are wonderful & awful.
The depth of anger by his wife & son is realistic. Years of lies & empty promises take their toll which usually ends up in disgust. Disgust becomes the boundary of “ENOUGH ALREADY, I DON’T BELIEVE YOU ANYMORE. I AM TIRED OF YOUR COMPLETE SELFISHNESS!”
Watching the screen you can feel the empty hole inside his soul. He’s stuffing the hole with booze & cocaine. He keeps himself numb to avoid feeling his own pain & the pain he causes others.
The process of real change, begins on the screen the same place it happens in real life. You have to begin by telling the truth. This is the origin of the AA custom of beginning in meetings with saying your first name and adding “I am an alcoholic.” no matter how long you’ve been in recovery.
You watch Denzel’s character have no real connections to anybody else except his drug dealer (played by John Goodman). If you are not wired to any truth inside of yourself you can not be connected to anyone else. The depth of his loneliness is true for anyone suffering with addictions.
The addict is so busy lying there is no one who knows him, including himself.
The movie also captures the reality that there is a way out of the hell of addictions. The way out includes the hard work of taking responsibility for the consequences of your addiction. The way out requires a huge effort in facing horrible truths about all of your addicted rationalizations.