Drunk in Public
(2009) 81 min. DVD: $29. Furious Love Productions. PPR.
This bleak and
astonishing film chronicles the physical and mental deterioration, over a 15-year period, of Mark David Allen, an alcoholic
living on the streets in Newport Beach, CA, who—as of April 2009, at age 47—had been arrested 478 times for being
“drunk in public.” Many of the arrests occurred after someone called the cops with a “man down” report.
Allen usually had to be taken to the hospital for treatment before being transported to the drunk tank. Filmmaker David J.
Sperling, who is also a Newport Beach Police Department custody officer, includes many brief conversations with Allen, most
of them shot when he arrived still inebriated by cheap vodka or when he was released (once again vowing to Sperling that he
would, this time, definitely quit drinking). But so far nothing—not Alcoholics Anonymous, counseling, a Salvation Army
rehab center, or an incarceration lasting more than a year—has stopped him from going back to the bottle as soon as
he could cadge enough cash. Sperling notes that Allen, while sober, consented to appear and participate in the film, which
is in part intended to help others avoid or break out of such addiction. After seeing an abbreviated version, Allen says,
“It’s very good, David,” before leaving the jail only to get drunk again within a few hours. Highly recommended.
Aud: C, P. (F. Zoretich)