Drawing upon his own harrowing experiences in a now-defunct cult-like rehab center, writer-director Nick Gaglia has fashioned a documentary-style drama that is too narratively disjointed to achieve maximum impact, but too emotionally potent in fits and starts to be dismissed out of hand. Ultimately, “Over the GW” resembles nothing so much as a rough draft for a more conventional feature. But its raw energy and real-world underpinnings might attract venturesome auds to screenings at commercial and nonprofit venues.
George Gallagher appears as Gaglia’s autobiographical alter ego, Tony Serra, a drug-abusing Bronx teen whose worried mom (Julia Moriarty) checks him into a New Jersey rehabilitation clinic where physical restraint, mental abuse and will-breaking brainwashing are routine therapies. Gallagher easily generates sympathy as he’s repeatedly brutalized by the overbearing minions of the center’s frightfully zealous (and apparently, medically unlicensed) Dr. Hiller (a manic Albert Insinnia). But Kether Donohue (as Tony’s sister, another clinic inmate) and Nicholas Serra (as Tony’s increasingly concerned father) make more powerful impressions in slightly more multifaceted roles. Pic overall is haphazardly constructed — the passing of time is announced, but never felt — but skittish DV lensing is effective.