A first-class perf from dependable Adriana Ozores as a mother who battles the drug dealers she feels hooked her son is not enough to redeem “Heroine” from being largely nonaddictive. Despite good intentions, the script’s desire to be faithful to the events on which it is based has left it looking ploddingly literal, and potentially rich subject matter is drained of emotion by conventionality. Both helmer and scripter have done fine recent work, but this one reps a step back for both. Spanish-language sales and the odd fest appearance look likely.
Pic is set in late ’80s Galicia, one of Spain’s main entry points for drugs. After discovering her 17 year-old son, Fito (Javier Pereira, looking about 25), is a junkie, Pilar (Ozores) gathers together a group of women in similar circumstances, among them Fina (Maria Bouzas), to protest against the drug dealers.
Soon the local press has taken an interest, arrests are made, setting up a center for recovering junkies is discussed — and Pilar begins to receive death threats. The mounting pressure takes its toll on her relationship with Fina and on her marriage to German (Carlos Blanco).
Script stakes out needless detail of Pilar’s development from troubled mother to campaigning heroine, with little imagination. Several scenes are emotionally redundant, particularly the regular showdowns between Pilar andFito. German stays mostly offscreen until late on, but his arrival brings a surge of interest, as well as provides the only affecting moments. Music-aided sentimentality, however, is abundant.
Ozores commits fully to the role, but Pilar’s unconditional love for her son makes her seem a tad brainless. Also, her desire to pin the sole blame for all her problems on the narcos rather than on Fito starts to look like denial — and, damagingly to pic’s psychology, she never examines her own conscience for the reasons for her son’s plight. Fito himself never attempts to surmount his problem, which might have made him a more appealing figure.
Lensing successfully evokes the oppressive mist and rain of this part of Spain, while other tech credits are up to snuff.
For the record, pic’s Spanish title is the ambiguous “Heroina.”