I cannot see any other way to start this than by making a confession. I have personally known a key member of this film for far too long to have anything but biased opinions. Perhaps this review, these comments, and these thoughts cannot be taken seriously. In any event, I wouldn’t say anything I didn’t believe to be true. THE DRUNK is a fantastic movie from first time film-makers. I wish I didn’t have to add ‘First time film-makers’, but I do. That should not however disparage the work that William Tanoos and Paul Fleschner put into this feature length film. Nor should it discourage anyone from not only seeing the film, but going out of their way to see it. With any luck, THE DRUNK will be making rounds at various film festivals across the country and perhaps more importantly will be screening in the very city in which it was filmed; Terre Haute.
Actor, writer, co-director, William Tanoos plays a hard drinking young man named Joe Debs who’s looking to find his way in the world. His path leads him into the world of politics. Following in the fictional footsteps of his nothing but truly legendary socialist grandfather Eugene V. Debs. The young Joe Debs takes it upon himself to put up the only opposition to a corrupt prosecuting attorney played by the incredible Tom Sizemore. Tannos and Sizemore lock horns on many occasions. These verbal battles between the two adversaries are the films high points. Sizemore’s experience on camera shows repeatedly and helps to keep viewers engrossed. There are several other under-developed side-plots that almost get lost in the storytelling. That is not to say they don’t help to drive the battle between the two statesmen to higher levels. That is especially true of Paul Fleschner’s character, Larry, who has even greater emotional turmoil when he is forced to make a decision that could literally mean life or death. The real side-story that is lost midst the battle for governor is Joe Deb’s love life. Nonetheless, the movie drives ever forward and my fears of losing interest in the film evaporate. We, the audience, can’t help but continue to be engaged, eager to find out how the main event will unfold. Rooting for Joe as the clear underdog in both his personal life, but too his bout for election, Fleschner notes, “the character is on a journey of redemption.”
Writer William Tanoos has always dreamed of showcasing his love for his, and my, hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana. Enough cannot be said for his well placed intentions of exhibiting the pride and community that a small town like ours has. The movie goes a long way toward showing how a community can come together to support a colleague, a friend, a neighbor in need. The film employed dozens of actors from the Midwest and called upon true and real community support. This film as I understand it could not have happened without countless collaborations and volunteers. There is no shortage of extras or locations in the film. The real community of Terre Haute opened its arms to William and Paul and gave them all the support and resources necessary to pull off their high-quality feature length film. Notably, the Eugene V. Debs foundation opened its doors to the Co-Directors and helped them establish the back story of Socialist ideals. This adds to the timeliness of the film, as Socialism is a controversial word in America right now. The timing of its release just misses the fervor of our own Presidential election revolving around fears of socialism. I hope as many people as possible make time to see the film and support these ambitious young actor-directors.