In 2000, filmmaker Alan Zweig made Vinyl, a film about record collectors that looked like a good lark on the surface but instead entered wholly unexpected realms of sadness, insight, and compassion. Some viewers might be unsettled by Zweig’s equally unswerving gaze in Hurt, his immersive portrait of troubled cross-Canada runner Steve Fonyo, but this is a film of remarkable humanity.
Shocking, pathetic, bleakly hilarious at times—the cheap archetype of the Trailer Park Boys is never far away as we watch, for instance, the Whalley resident's efforts to replace a stolen generator that powered his dump of a home—it all coheres into something extraordinary when Dr. Gabor Maté enters the picture.
Painful as it is, there’s a basic decency motivating Hurt as it seeks to rescue a tragic man from his underserved fate as a trashy news item or punchline. The scope is enormous (especially for British Columbians), and the title is the key to this difficult, brave, and vital film.