28 Days (2000) | Film Review
by A. M. Kalus
Instead of the usual topic of romantic love, on this Valentine’s Day I decided to talk about finding the strength to love yourself— and 28 Days is a perfect example of that. Its screenwriter is Susannah Grant, whose script of hit movie Erin Brockovich earned Julia Roberts an Academy Award. 28 Days is a fairly old movie; it came out a distant June 2000, but it has left a strong impression on me ever since.
It follows the story of successful writer Gwen Cummings (Sandra Bullock) who lives in New York. Her life is a blur of parties and ever-flowing alcohol, and she and her boyfriend Jasper (Dominic West) find great fun in it until she gets hammered at her sister’s wedding. In her drunken fit, she delivers an embarrassing, insulting toast, ruins the cake, goes off to buy a replacement cake by taking the wedding limo, and to top it all off, crashes the limo into a stranger’s lawn.
This sends her into a court-ordered rehab, where she reluctantly comes to understand how deeply alcoholism has been affecting her life and the lives of the people around her. As the members of the rehab gather, counselor Cornell, played brilliantly by Steve Buscemi, shares his own past as a drug addict, alcoholic, and a compulsive gambler. The scene splits between his speech and Gwen’s reckless and desperate attempt to reach the pills she threw out from the window earlier. Courtesy of IMDb
Cornell paints the picture of hitting rock bottom, waking up on an unknown street, covered in blood and hungover, and then hearing a voice, which tells him, “This is not a way to live. This is a way to die.”
This movie deals with a hard topic, but it does so with finesse and comedy too. At first,
Gwen refuses to admit she has a problem and insists she has control over her drinking. However, among the cast of unfortunate misfits in the rehab, Gwen slowly realizes she is just as pathetic and just as tragic as everybody else. After her teenage roommate Andrea overdoses and loses her life, Gwen changes completely for the better. She finds friendship and apologizes to her sister. Slowly but surely, Gwen learns to leave her past behind and love herself enough to stop self-destructing and finally start mending.