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Gwen (Sandra Bullock) can't say no to a drink, and her boyfriend Jasper (Dominic West) is usually guzzling gratuitously with her. Obvious to everyone except themselves, both are alcoholics. But Gwen's life hits reality after she destroys her sister's wedding by driving the bridal limousine into a house. The incident lands her in a rehab center where she is ordered to take a 28-day detox program in lieu of imprisonment.
Far from impressed with her new surroundings, Gwen cynically views the helpful mottoes hanging on the walls, and barely tolerates compulsory group therapy sessions that often end with motivational songs and chants. Yet with the strong divergent personalities and counselors in Gwen's group forcing her to face her problems and listen to theirs, she and we are subtly reminded that addictions prey on rich and poor, famous and unknown, heterosexual and homosexual, old and young.
As time passes, Gwen does more than just trade her old addictions for less harmful ones, like cigarettes and candy. She also begins to develop empathy toward other clients of the center, who are struggling with everything from drug dependencies to sexual obsessions. The friendship formed with her teenage roommate Andrea (Azura Skye), allows Gwen to reach outside of her own problems and realize the potential she has buried in booze. But the increasing distance she experiences during Jasper's occasional visits, provide the greatest indication of how far Gwen has moved from her old lifestyle.
The previews of this movie may leave you expecting a comedy. While Gwen and Jasper's opening drunken romps may appear somewhat humorous, once her life hits bottom the tone of the movie changes and any humor comes from Gwen's emotional need to cope. Parents should be aware the serious themes in this film involve strong language, sexual overtones, self-mutilation, and brief nudity.
However, with the never ending flood of movies that glamorize alcohol and drug use, even with teens, I have to applaud 28 Days' effort to look at the consequences of substance abuse. I only wonder if Gwen's transformation is really possible in just 28 days.
28 Days is rated PG-13:
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Dominic West
Studio: (pictures (c)2000 Columbia Pictures, Inc.)