Written Off

61 min. Video Project. 2017. $89. ISBN unavail.
OrangeReviewStarGr 9 Up—Matt Edwards, a creative and humorous young man from rural Wisconsin, became addicted to prescription opioids, including heroin, as a teen and young adult. His drug use came as a result of pain medication prescribed after minor surgery for ingrown toenails. During his decade of addiction, he kept a journal every day, recording everything that happened during his struggle to overcome his habit. (His mother was not aware of his writings until after his death.) The film uses many amateur videos shot by Edwards, his family, and friends, but the resulting film is anything but amateur. The narration, based on his journals, and the interviews with friends, girlfriends, employers, and family members come together to bring his story vividly to life. Homemade footage is sometimes altered with jagged, rudimentary animation, and the discordant musical score adds to the overall tone.
VERDICT A compelling and highly recommended film about addiction that should be shared with high school students, parents, and others entrusted with the care of teens.

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