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Originally published Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 3:04 PM

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‘Bottled Up’: a mother, a daughter, addiction

A two-star review of Enid Zentelis’ follow-up feature to “Evergreen,” “Bottled Up” — the story of a small-town mother and daughter dealing with addiction.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 2 stars

‘Bottled Up,’ with Melissa Leo, Marin Ireland, Josh Hamilton. Written and directed by Enid Zentelis. 84 minutes. Rated R for language. Sundance Cinemas.

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Timely in its topic but uneven in its execution, Enid Zentelis’ “Bottled Up” is the story of a small-town mother and daughter facing addiction. Fay (Melissa Leo) wants desperately to help her daughter Sylvie (Marin Ireland), who’s struggling with constant pain from a long-ago car accident. But she refuses to see that Sylvie has become hooked on prescription pain medication, and that her daughter’s life revolves around getting pills, by whatever means.

Zentelis, a Bellingham native whose previous feature was 2004’s “Evergreen” (shot in the Seattle area), nicely creates the feeling of the kind of place where, in Sylvie’s words, “no one in our family has ever left this town, ever.” Fay works at a small business that offers the interesting combination of mailboxes, doughnuts and piercings; the home she shares with Sylvie (which belonged to her parents) looks like it’s been there forever, right down to the Christmas snowmen on the front porch in summertime. But, despite Leo’s valiant efforts, Fay is a problematic character; she wildly shifts back and forth on the issue of her daughter’s addiction (you don’t quite buy that Fay, sick with worry about Sylvie, would lie to a doctor to get pills, as the script requires her to do), and her romantic entanglement with a young environmentalist (Josh Hamilton) lacks chemistry and logic.

You watch “Bottled Up” feeling that the screenplay needed a few more drafts; the dialogue, in particular, doesn’t always ring true. But you keep watching, finding pleasure in a little-told story, and in Ireland’s fierce, honest portrayal of a flailing young woman caught in the grip of something stronger than herself. She’s always believable, even when the movie isn’t.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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