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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oxyana Movie Review


Director Sean Dunne has made a bunch of short films, almost all of which were documentaries. This time he goes full-length with a documentary that is so depressing that it numbs you until you are no longer depressed.

Oceana is a small town in West Virginia that was once a big coal mining town. Now, the industry has died off and a very high percentage of the denizens are either addicted to drugs, intellectually deprived, or dead. At least that is the picture that Dunne is presenting to us. Dunne interviews about seven individuals over and over. We skip from addicts to addict/criminals, to concerned relatives and friends and then we hear from the same people again. And again.


The drug of choice in Oceana is Oxycontin, not that other drugs are excluded from the local cuisine. This is the reason for title and is how many of the locals refer to their town. When a local dies, the term used for their death is oxycuted.

By unrelentingly pounding into our heads how bad and hopeless life in this area is, all Dunne accomplishes is to turn us into voyeurs at a car accident. Only this car accident is 83 minutes long.

I tried awfully hard to feel sorry for someone, but it is near impossible to find redeeming qualities in these people. I am sure that in real life some of them have qualities that could raise a note of feeling for them, but Dunne is intent on not letting us see even a glimmer of humanity or hope anywhere. Dunne doesn't seem to understand that if everything is one note, eventually that note becomes nothing.

I wish I could come up with a positive thing to say about "Oxyana" because Dunne must have some feelings of sympathy for the plight of those he is using in his documentary, but he refuses to allow even a sliver of light into this darkness. The final result will leave you beaten up, limp and seeking a drink or drugs to help you recover. It's just not worth it.

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