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Drug Train (2020) Film Review

★★

Directed by: #BijanKarim

 

A detached young man goes about his days contemplating his very existence and the meaning of life itself, much to the concern and support of his few friends.


Drug Train (2020) chronicles the fictionalised psychedelic trips of our lead, Alberto (Doyle), a self-centred disturbed individual who struggles to enjoy life under the heavy weight of life and society’s expectations. The film was shot in October 2018 to February 2019, with Turkish born director/writer Bijan Karim having been involved with several shorts and features beforehand as actor, editor, writer and filmmaker.


The movie opens with a nice rock and roll track, introducing us to Alberto, half naked, as he offhandedly dances to the music in his apartment. This opening establishes the strongest aspect of the film with its brilliant musical score, with many psychedelic tracks very reminiscent of the swinging 60s and the likes of The Doors, The Beatles and The Byrds establishing the oppressive dreamlike tone well. The film is shot in a mostly fly on the wall documentary format, with some handheld camera applied earlier on, with a slick pretty quality to the visuals, despite the mundane settings of an industrial city.

Drug Train (2020) film still

The film does not have a conventional plot formula to follow, made up entirely of various characters discussing deep existential themes, with the centre of it all being the troubled Alberto. Unfortunately, this style of filmmaking will not be for everyone and the lack of a straightforward narrative with a rather lacklustre premise stretched out to two hours makes it difficult to maintain consistent engagement throughout. The documentary style does benefit from creating a grounded sense of tangibility to the film with characters feeling like anybody one would meet, speaking like real people, but the day to day life of Alberto and his friends just aren’t interesting enough to get us invested.


Alberto is introduced as an intriguing lead, a young man clearly struggling from serious mental health issues and also appears to harbour aggressive defensive tendencies, yet his grapples with existentialism never really lifts off. The film meanders along at a painstakingly slow pace as we watch several versions of the same conversation with different people over and over again. Doyle gives a strong performance as Alberto, with a notable highlight of his character’s troubles coming to a head when he breaks down in the middle of a street towards the end of the movie; Doyle is very convincing with a poignant performance here.


The film does have a sweet heart-warming ending of love amongst the madness of life, but it is not enough of a positive sentiment to justify the two hour slog that came before it. All in all, Drug Train does exactly what it says on the tin – it is a psychedelic trip down the rabbit hole with little substance and direction to actually keep things running high.

 

Drug Train (2020) trailer:


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