First Run Features // 2010 // 84 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // May 14th, 2011
Can a psychedelic plant release your demons?
Michel Negroponte's documentary I'm Dangerous with Love instantly captures your attention and invites you on a journey into a dark world where the power of a mysterious hallucinogen seemingly builds new hope for people with strong drug addictions. Could this be the cure for many people addicted to heroin or cocaine? How does it work? Mostly importantly, does it really work? Where does it come from, and who's walking around using it to treat addicts? Those are all questions Negroponte goes after in this compelling little film First Run Features has finally released on DVD.
The man Negroponte follows around in this documentary is Dimitri Mugianis, who after beating his own drug addiction with the help of ibogaine, decided to go on a quest and help others go to the same detox that saved his life. Ibogaine is a hallucinogen derived from an African plant, and as Dimitri tells us, it often only takes one dose for drug users to get rid of their dangerous habit. Filmmaker Negroponte has a hard time believing that's all it takes to beat a heroin addiction, which is why he accompanies Dimitri as he travels the country to offer treatment to several of his "patients."
What gives this film the extra edge is the fact that ibogaine is illegal in the United States. Dimitri is part of a large underground network distributing the hallucinogen for a good purpose, but the risk of getting caught is substantial. Dimitri takes people through treatments at motels or private homes, warning them of the risks and sitting with them until he feels they're ready to start over by themselves. Ibogaine can cause major hallucinations, and watching addicts go through this unique detox is both intense and fascinating.
In order to raise the stakes a bit, Negroponte undergoes the treatment himself in one of the film's segments. His account of the state it puts you in is riveting. While the first part of the film introduces viewers to a handful of patients all reacting differently to the ibogaine treatment, the second part takes a different direction, following Dimitri to Africa, where he meets a shaman and undergoes an initiation into the Bwiti religion, which practices ritual involving ibogaine. Dimitri's story is a compelling one to tell, and not only because he used to be an addict himself, but also because he chose to live a solitary life by helping others beat their addiction as well.
I'm Dangerous with Love looks good on the small screen. The disc boasts a clean full-frame presentation of the film, and the image quality does its job. Considering this is a rough documentary without production values, the often grainy look of the film is not at all distracting. If anything, it adds an extra layer of reality to the entire thing. Audio delivers the goods as well. In terms of special features, you'll find bonus interviews with Howard Lotsof, an expert on ibogaine, and Daniel Pinchbeck, an author who wrote about it. Also included is a musical performance by Dimitri's former band.
I'm Dangerous with Love is a powerful film about a powerful hallucinogen that has already helped tons of addicts get rid of their bad habits. Fast-paced and informative, this is just the kind of documentary deserving attention and praise. Highly recommendable.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Run Features
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated