• Publication date: April 29, 2009

Duane Hopwood Duane Hopwood

David Schwimmer plays Duane Hopwood, a struggling alcoholic whose addiction has taken over ...

David Schwimmer plays Duane Hopwood, a struggling alcoholic whose addiction has taken over his life. When the father of two is arrested for driving while intoxicated, with his young daughter in the backseat, Duane is on a downward spiral that destroys both his career and marriage. With his license revoked, the shamed dad must pedal to work each day on bicycle, rain or snow. Worse yet, wife Linda, has filed for divorce and full custody of the children. The judge, taking into account Hopwood’s poor decision making the night of his arrest, in addition to his years of alcoholism, grants Linda both requests. Despite Duane’s faults, he is a genuinely loving husband and caring father, whose depression intensifies without the companionship of Linda or the kids. A resident of Atlantic City, he works at Caesar's Palace as a pit boss, overseeing dealers and mediating customer disputes. His supervisor, Carl is a fatherly figure with a good heart. However when Duane pacifies a customer’s complaint with the casino’s cash, Carl must reluctantly terminate his employment. This, inevitably, results in increased dependence on the bottle. He finds some solace in the companionship of Anthony, a former coworker and aspiring comedian. Approaching his 40s, the wannabe comic’s chances of stardom grow less likely by the day, and mom has finally decided her son must move out. With Hopwood strapped for cash, and Anthony in search of new accommodations, the two quickly become roommates. Duane’s less than ideal living arrangement and outright misfortune, of which he is solely to blame, fail to change his behavior. He continues to frequent the local bar, though he has found a new female acquaintance: Gina, a bartender who attempts to rehabilitate the wino. She is perhaps one of the few who can tolerate Hopwood’s relentless self-pity, as he laments his divorce, loss of child custody, and Linda’s intolerable new boyfriend, Rob. Next-door neighbors Fred and Wally appear sympathetic to Duane, inviting the lonely bachelor over for Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately their act of kindness invokes sadness, as he remembers his former family, and the joys of the holidays. Throughout all of this alcohol abuse is never romanticized, and the chances of Duane undergoing a miraculous recovery, as would happen in similar films, is doubtful. Nevertheless Duane Hopwood does contain moments of hope and laughter, yet never in exchange for the harsh realities of the protagonist’s disease.