Film

From Belgium, a Vital Doc Portrait of Alcoholism and Adult Male Friendship

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“You don’t die if you have other people around you,” grizzled alcoholic Bob tells slightly younger fellow inebriate Marcel — but if your best/only friend is also your biggest enabler, what then?

Filmed over two years with Waiting for Godot as a reference point, Sabine Lubbe Bakker and Niels van Koevorden’s documentary Ne Me Quitte Pas is a grimly funny deep dive into sustained alcoholism with a classical three-act structure: Things get worse, then comes rehab followed by the dread suspense of whether sobriety is sustainable.

Don’t get optimistic: Shot in widescreen, mostly in steady handheld, Ne Me Quitte Pas finds the comedy in two articulately self-destructive men who open the movie by articulating a shared wish for suicide. Marcel wants to die — but maybe not really — while the older, more phlegmatic Bob is philosophically resigned and seemingly indifferent to his own demise.

This is occasionally horrifying, physically committed filmmaking (the directors tag along for a drunken nighttime motorcycle ride and suffer a direct hit to the camera from Marcel when he’s wasted), deliberately paced at the speed of a long drinking session, and the Beckettian sensibility is pertinent: Instead of “I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” we get Marcel’s “I’ll eat. No, I’ll have another drink.”

Ne Me Quitte Pas

Directed by Sabine Lubbe Bakker and Niels van Koevorden

Opens November 18, Museum of the Moving Image

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