Off Label: A Tragicomically Beautiful Art-Doc

Location Info


Cinema Village

22 E. 12th St.
New York, NY 10003

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: East Village


Off Label
Directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher
Oscilloscope Laboratories
Opens August 9, Cinema Village

The profound, personal tales stemming from the commercialization and subsequent abuse of prescription drugs deserve a penetrating exposé, but don't discount October Country filmmakers Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's tragicomically beautiful art-doc, which sensitively favors unflinching testimonials and visually impressionistic observations over journalistic activism. In a tangentially linked, cleverly edited medley of portraits, a 22-year-old army medic gripes about the inapt pharmaceutical dregs offered him to combat PTSD from his Abu Ghraib stationing, while a former inmate forgives the institutional villains who ruined him through forced medical experiments. Other guinea pigs step forward, like the neo-hippie couple who undergo drug trials to pay for their wedding, and a young Asian American who gets mistaken for a junkie because of his oft-punctured arms. As their stories unfold, the camera seeks out the nearby environment's fleeting, Malick-friendly poetry—in bonobo babies, insect cocoons, and a passerby carrying a giant cross down the Vegas strip behind a subject sadly crafting balloon animals for tips—but even a graphic combat-death photo montage doesn't chill the bones quite like the reform-fighting mom who recounts the ghastly specifics of her son's antidepressant-study-caused suicide.


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