Release Date: 2003
Plot Outline: Union Square is a very emotional and raw documentary that follows the lives of seven homeless drug addicts that spend most of their time in Union Square, New York.
I was drawn to this film on a personal level. I am no drug addict but I do work with this particular population. I work in AIDS prevention as a Harm Reduction Educator. I had a few problems with this documentary because I work with heroin addicts on a daily basis.
Documentaries normally capture the audience and allow them to experience the lives of other populations they are otherwise unaware of. This allows the audience to sympathize and have empathy for those in the documentary. That was not the case with Union Square. Union Square not only lacks the ability of engaging the audience in sympathetic emotion but it actually does the complete opposite. Watching Union Square, I was angered and put off by these seven individuals, some more so than others. Shockingly, the documentary leaves you with a strong dislike for these homeless and struggling addicts. Though we see them begging for money, sleeping wherever they find some space, and shooting up, many of them state that they have alienated and stolen from their friends and families. A few were parents but had not seen their children in years. One man shared an encounter of his with police. He said he was drunk in a star bucks. Because of this employees would not allow him to use the restroom. Out of anger and frustration he kicked a glass door and it shattered. Of course, police arrested him. The smug, ‘I hate everyone and don’t care about the world or anyone in it’ attitude of the individuals does not exactly make them likable or charming.
One man stated that he makes about 80 dollars a day. This is more than a fulltime minimum wage employee makes daily.
Union Square was a great idea. Homeless drug addicts are a tragedy in this country. They do need help and this situation needs to be made aware of. What I don’t like is that this documentary shows us stereotypical drug addicts.
The documentary was intense and chaotic. The music of the film intensifies the already intense mood. The music was as chaotic, loud, and disturbing as was the documentary itself.