February 7, 2013

‘The Playroom’: Must-see cinema for ACOAs

 If you are an adult child of an alcoholic, or have been a substance and alcholic abusing parent yourself, you might find it difficult to watch “The Playroom,” but it's important viewing.

The film, released this week, features the Cantwells, a family of six in mid-1970s suburbia.

Dad (John Hawkes) seems to be a pretty good dad. He dresses up for work and goes in on time. He nurtures his kids' education. Mom (Molly Parker) seems OK, too. She smiles and makes meals, even when she hasn't shopped so has to serve breakfast for dinner.

They both, however, drink. A lot. Every night. With neighbors. Playing bridge. Groping each other. Getting sloppy. Downstairs.

The kids listen from their vantage point, upstairs, in, of  course, the playroom.

What “The Playroom” gets at is the destrictive wake of alcoholism guised as seemingly harmless social drinking. These children build fantasy worlds; the eldest daughter has already started a quest for self-destruction.

The four Cantwell children's pain is palpable, even as they work so hard to act normal.

With a script by Gretchen Dyer, Director Julia Dyer captures the chaotic life of growing up with alcoholic parents: the unpredictablitiy; the confusion; the need to make everything seem perfect.

This film is not getting rave reviews. For people who have been touched by alcoholism, however, it's must-see cinema.

Buy a ticket if you get the chance.


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