Friday, January 26, 2024

Junction: Movie Review

There have been so many opioid epidemic movies and shows over the past year or two, so it kind of seems like an odd choice for actor Bryan Greenberg to make his screenwriting and directorial debut with. It’s impossible for Junction to stand-out against the bigger-budget productions, the grittier productions, the documentary productions, so it just tucks itself into the middle with a nicely polished, lower budget, fictionalized story that could be (mostly) true.   2024

Directed by: Bryan Greenberg

Screenplay by: Bryan Greenberg

Starring: Griffin Dunne, Ashley Madikwe, Bryan Greenberg and Sophia Bush

It focuses on three intertwining stories about a big pharma CEO, Lawrence (Griffin Dunne); a cash-strapped, local clinic doctor, Mary (Ashley Madikwe); and a divorced father struggling with his addiction to oxycodone, Michael (Bryan Greenberg). This takes place in modern day, long after the opioid addiction became a problem in society, after Pardue Pharma (although in this film it’s a fictional version) faced multiple lawsuits, and after the FDA finally decided to try and crack down on the distribution.

In this reality, Lawrence is starting to come to a personal reckoning, he’s planning on stepping down as CEO and he wants to leave the company in his family, and he seems that he kind of cares about the mess he has created, emphasis on only kind of cares. Meanwhile, Mary, a doctor and a single mother has just had her teenage daughter accepted into Columbia, which has now made her already tight money situation significantly worse, and then her entire day at work is filled with patients coming in trying to get oxy prescriptions. And finally, Michael’s oxy addiction has been obvious to everyone especially his son and ex-wife and he might get help but he just has to score one last fix first - you can guess how his story goes.

The film claims it asks how the modern day opioid crisis occurred, but that’s not true at all. We’re so far past the beginning of the crisis, that it has happened, and there is no examining of how it happened (Netflix's Painkillers does that though). One of the storylines provides some interesting thoughts on how to get out of it, while the other two storylines don’t offer anything new.

Junction doesn’t add much to the opioid conversation that hasn’t been covered by all the other films and TV series out there, but it does have some compelling characters and a lot of famous faces (Josh Peck as a drug rep, and One Tree Hill fans will be delighted to see Greenberg reunite with his co-star Sophia Bush as his ex-wife) that it was a satisfying watch. The few artistic elements (like a wistful daydream of a past childhood) are on the cheesy side but are minimal enough that they don’t bog the film down.