Laurie Brooks, Gabor Maté, Dennis J. McKenna, Paul Stamets
Nicholas Meyers, TylerChandler
I will confess that my interest in Dosed: The Trip of a Lifetime was as much a personal one as it was professional. As I sit here at my desk writing this review, I'm in the midst of several rounds of chemo secondary to bladder cancer. It's the latest in a lifetime filled with health challenges that began with my having been born with spina bifida.
Much like Laurie Brooks, the central focus of this quietly moving documentary co-directed by Nicholas Meyers and Tyler Chandler, I have far survived my life expectancy that was considered limited even before my cancer diagnosis. In the case of Brooks, her original diagnosis with colon cancer was considered much more dire and she was given 6-12 months to live. Granted the legal right for the medical use of magic mushrooms, Laurie embarks on a courageous journey of transformation and healing as she explores possible alternative cures for cancer including cannabis oil.
Recipient of the Audience Choice Award at the 2023 Atlanta DocuFest, Dosed: The Trip of a Lifetime embarks on its Academy Award-qualifying run on April 21st-May 14th with a planned digital release set for June 1. The film will, of course, captivate those who embrace the world of alternative healing methods (as I do) and is a refreshingly low-key yet optimistic film devoid of the usual hard-sell techniques we so often find associated with this type of filmmaking. It's as if Meyers and Chandler trust the inherent power of the story they're telling here. That trust is insightful as Brooks radiates a sort of cellular warmth that draws you in like a warm psychedelic hug.
These magic mushrooms are never offered up as some sort of miracle. They are a valuable part of Laurie's journey, yet likely no more essential to the journey than Laurie's attitude and her will to live. The odds are against here, at least this is what the science says, and she seems peaceful with her journey no matter how it transpires. However, she's also a mother of four who has a strong desire to see all the parental benchmarks one expects to see in a lifetime. While parents expect to die before their children, they also expect to live long enough to have some assurance that their children will be okay without them.
Dosed: The Trip of a Lifetime is the kind of documentary that leads one to going down an internet rabbit hole. This certainly happened for me, though I'll also acknowledge I do this a fair amount anyway as I seek to stave off my own diagnosis that is considered far less desire than Laurie's yet still potentially life-changing. It could have been tempting to turn The Trip of a Lifetime into a buzzy, entertaining documentary playing off the psychedelia of it all. While that may have been fun in the moment, the real lasting impact comes from watching this calm and courageous woman make loving choices to positively impact her life, the lives of those around her, and the community at large. Rather than psychedelic, one might even say that Trip of a Lifetime is a little sedate.
With appearances by family, friends, and acclaimed Canadian physician Gabor Maté, Dosed: The Trip of a Lifetime is a raw, intimate, and motivating documentary about a woman who chooses to live her life authentically and discovers healing whatever the results.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic