Ruben Guthrie

Ruben Guthrie

Ruben (Patrick Brammall) is an award-winning advertising creative who likes a drink. Okay, not much “a” drink as all the drinks. So when a drunken rooftop dive into his pool leaves our mid-30s hero with a broken arm, his 21-year-old model girlfriend (Abbey Lee) – who he’s been seeing for five years (you do the math) – walks out.
But there’s hope: Zoya tells him that if he can stay sober for a year, she’ll consider taking him back. It doesn’t take all that much for him to give up the booze. The real problems start when he has to try and live without it blurring the edge of the unpleasant people he finds himself surrounded by. Not that he’s a saint either: Guthrie is an arrogant smart-arse trying to improve but most of the drama in this film comes from those around him, especially his needy and manipulative hippie sponsor-slash-girlfriend (Harriet Dyer) and his gay, bitchy party boy parody BFF (Alex Dimitriades).
Writer-director Brendan Cowell (adapting his play) seems unsure of the points he’s making: Alcoholics Anonymous is attacked by almost everyone as a cult, but it seems to help Guthrie… who spouts AA mantras like he’s in a cult. Strong performances make the characters watchable, but often the script’s origins as a play make the characters hard to swallow (at one stage one literally tips booze down Guthrie’s throat to get him off the wagon). And if you’re trying to give up the booze, would you really have a literal wall of alcohol set up in your house? Guthrie’s tragedy isn’t that his life is falling apart, it’s that in a sea of arseholes he ends up just more of the same.