Combustible Celluloid Review - Junction (2024), Bryan Greenberg, Bryan Greenberg, Bryan Greenberg, Sophia Bush, Griffin Dunne, Ashley Madekwe, Jamie Chung, Michaela Conlin, Ryan Eggold, Dascha Polanco, Josh Peck
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With: Bryan Greenberg, Sophia Bush, Griffin Dunne, Ashley Madekwe, Jamie Chung, Michaela Conlin, Ryan Eggold, Dascha Polanco, Josh Peck
Written by: Bryan Greenberg
Directed by: Bryan Greenberg
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 97
Date: 01/26/2024

Junction (2024)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Oxy Music

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bryan Greenberg's Junction comes packed with a powerful and important message that needs to be heard, but, unfortunately, that's about all it is; it's more about a situation than it is about a story or characters.

Three different, connecting stories about the opioid crisis are told. Michael (Bryan Greenberg) is a divorced dad who is addicted to Oxycodone after having back surgery, and his dependence is beginning to play havoc on his relationship with his young son and his ex-wife, Allison (Sophia Bush).

Mary (Ashley Madekwe) runs a pain clinic, and has moral qualms about prescribing pain medication to those who may not necessarily need it, but she's struggling financially, and her teen daughter has just been accepted to Columbia University.

Finally, Lawrence (Griffin Dunne) is the CEO of a powerful drug company, KanMed, which is being sued for their unscrupulous business practices. Meanwhile, Lawrence's son Jacob (Ryan Eggold) is gunning to take over the company for himself.

A feature writing and directing debut by actor Greenberg, Junction has a lot to say about the opioid crisis, including how highly addictive these drugs are, how even responsible users become addicted, how hard it is to become clean, how difficult the doctors' jobs are, and just who to blame (the drug companies).

Greenberg occasionally includes montages of faces, presumably real people who have struggled with this problem.

Sadly, like too many "message movies," this one wears its message on its sleeve and doesn't give viewers a chance to participate in the conversation. The three stories don't allow enough time to the characters to really get to know them, to make this an emotional issue.

Its most powerful moment comes not from any of the main characters, but from a man (Dash Mihok) who testifies at the KanMed hearing. He was a ballplayer, newly promoted to the pros, when he had surgery on his elbow, became addicted to Oxycodone, even though he followed his doctor's instructions precisely.

The story is told slowly, deliberately, and — despite, or because of, Greenberg breaking it up into part of a montage — makes a strong impact. So Junction may have had the seed of something powerful, but it needed either more of a soft touch, or a harder punch.

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