Squandering the chance to offer a coherently investigative p.o.v. on the widespread use and misuse of psychotropic pharmaceuticals in the U.S., “Off Label” is a pretentiously poetic docu-mosaic whose choices appear to have been made for pseudo-artistic rather than principled reasons. The pic’s seemingly random portraits of eight people whose lives have been variously affected by prescription drugs fail to bring a thesis into focus, further obscuring the already complex issue of mental illness treatment via pills. Arguably irresponsible and ill suited even to the smallscreen, the pic deserves to settle for limited fest play.Co-directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher decline to lay the journalistic groundwork for their vague suggestion at the pic’s end that individuals with mental illness ought to flush their psychotropic drugs en masse, ignoring the scientific reality that meds such as Wellbutrin have helped many to cope and thrive. By default, the film’s strongest element is its periodic attention to a former drug rep who rails against Big Pharma’s push of its wares to primary care physicians who have limited or nonexistent experience with prescribing psychotropic meds. Tech credits are sharp.
A Filmscience, Wishbone Films presentation. (International sales: Preferred Content, Santa Monica.) Produced by Anish Savjani, Vincent Savino. Directed by Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher.
Camera (color, HD), Palmieri; editor, Palmieri; music, Ted Savarese, Danny Grody; sound, David C. Hughes. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (competing), April 19, 2012. Running time: 80 MIN.
Jusef Anthony, Paul Clough, Robert Helms, Jordan Rieke, Michael Oldani, Paula Yarr, Mary Weiss, Andrew Duffy.