Heroin(e) (2017)

Award season is the best way for me to discover potentially interesting documentaries and, as I've watched all of this year feature-length nominees, I've moved over the short subject category and picked Netflix's Heroin(e) as it really intrigued me. 

As you probably guessed from the title, the documentary centers on drugs, specifically on heroin, focusing on the town of Huntington, West Virginia, which used to be a bustling industrial town but now it's now known for having the overdose rate 10 times the United States average. 

It follows three female figures, Fire Chief Jan Rader, Cabell County Judge Patricia Keller, and social worker Necia Freeman, as they try to help people who struggle with heroin addiction, either by saving their lives, literally, helping them with recovery, or delivering food to women who prostitute themselves in order to support their addiction. 

The documentary shows what it's like to be first responders and what it's like to see so many overdoses in such short period of times --dozens a month. It highlights the effort those three women do every single day to help those in need. It's quite remarkable what they do as it's difficult to care about these people or feel sorry for them because, after all, when they first used, they willingly did it, it was their conscious choice to do so. Whether they were pushed by friends or acquaintances or not, the final decision was theirs. 

The film also includes interviews with many addicts in recovery as they discuss the effect of heroin on their lives and their efforts to recover.

The problem with Heroin(e) is that it doesn't really show anything we haven't seen before. Also, it's got a feel-good kind of vibe that feels a little inappropriate in my opinion. Seeing state officials and addicts so close and warm with each other takes away the documentary's credibility. It doesn't feel genuine, rather it feels staged which is why it didn't fully convince me. 

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