REVIEW: ‘Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story’ (2020) is a Portrait of Addiction and Sobriety

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Even if you can’t get behind his comedy, you’ll be able to get behind his recovery.”

Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story opens with Lett touring the Vancouver comedy club scene, arguing with the audience, making crude jokes, and refusing to pay his bar tab. He’s been kicked out of almost every establishment in the city and it’s easy to judge him because he comes across as such a hateful person. Richard Lett is an old school Canadian comedian, old school being a kinder description for offensive. He’s brash, loud, and rude, with his personality making it easy to dismiss him. But Never Be Done takes the time to uncover why Lett makes these actions.

In his first feature, Roy Tighe follows Richard Lett in a guerrilla-style observational approach. He never gets involved as Lett further ostracizes himself from the comedy world, instead choosing to quietly document the events. The film peels back Lett’s facade showing people that his behaviour isn’t solely because he’s an asshole, he’s actually a sick person. Lett struggles with substance abuse, namely to drugs and alcohol, but he doesn’t own up to his problems. He claims that he acts the way he does because he’s a rough and tough guy, to him his behaviour is normal. Lett keeps denying the actuality of his problems even after no club is willing to allow him to perform his stand-up routine.

Tighe’s observational approach to filming The Richard Glen Lett Story thankfully humanizes Lett. Lett believes that he is doing just fine but Tighe and the audience can see through his denial. Lett finally hits rock bottom when he is being evicted from his apartment suite. With no income, he is desperate to get his security deposit back. The scenes showing Lett moving out are long, but they are necessary to show the consequences of his actions and denial. Now Richard Lett is at the worst point in his life. He has no money, he’s homeless, and he can no longer refuse to face his issues. He knows the only way out is to get better.

The amazing thing about Never Be Done: The Richard Glenn Lett Story is the documentary doesn’t just end at Lett’s rock bottom like so many other portraits of addiction. Instead, the film shows that there is the hope of getting better and sober. The documentary has been over a decade in the making and shows Lett’s entry into the Twelve Step program and journey to sobriety. Never Be Done looks at Richard Lett’s life with such empathy that even those who can’t get on board with his comedy will still be able to get on board with his journey. Lett’s redemption arc is fulfilling for the audience because he shows the tough work it takes to get to a healthy place. The film becomes inspirational rather than solely being another heartbreaking look at substance abuse.

Dir: Roy Tighe

Cast: Richard Glen Lett

Release Date: June 16, 2020

Available On: Amazon Prime, YouTube, AppleTV, Vimeo