Auds who thought “Trainspotting” painted a depressing portrait of Scottish junky life ought to get a load of “Wasted,” an ultra-realistic depiction of the lower depths that pulls no punches, kicks or pummelings of any sort. Feel-real-bad pic will rep a very hard sell beyond the fest circuit, but this debut feature for legit-trained co-helmers Caroline Paterson and Stuart Davids is well worth catching for its outstandingly credible improvised perfs, fluid handheld lensing and assured helming.
Glaswegian twentysomethings Connor (Neil Leiper) and Suzanne (Emma Harley Miller) grew up together in a children’s home where some very bad stuff went on (they’re played by child actors Cavan Bolland and Paige Gillies in flashbacks). Deeply damaged, both have grown up to become junkies who rely on prostitution for money.
Reunited after not having seen each other for years, the two reignite their bond but don’t become lovers at first, presumably because sex is now just work for them both. When not turning tricks, they spend much of their time getting high in a dilapidated squat with other junkies, including older prostitute Michelle (Kate Dickie, “Red Road”) and longtime addict Joe (David Hayman).
According to the pic’s press notes, the script was developed over a long research and rehearsal process, and the thesps so inhabit their smack-ravaged personas that even the better known actors, such as Dickie and Hayman, are nearly unrecognizable. Dialogue (which will probably need subtitling for some English-speaking territories due to accents) sounds so naturalistic, the pic could almost pass for a documentary. It’s only the more filmic touches, such as the flashbacks, that give the game away.
Paterson and Davids strike the odd false note at the end, including the now tedious cliche of having characters interact with their younger imagined selves. Moreover, some auds may feel repelled by the pic’s relentless grimness, however sociologically accurate it may be. There’s gang rape (of a man), child abuse, physical abuse, repulsive needle marks — something to upset everyone.
Running time could lose 10 minutes or so, but tech credits are pro.