Documentary Review: Jacinta Is A Harrowing Tale of Multigenerational Trauma and Addiction in Maine

America’s opioid epidemic has left so many broken families in its wake. In “Jacinta”, a new documentary streaming now on Hulu, director Jessica Earnshaw explores a family struggling and on the brink due to trauma and drug abuse in Maine. Read on for a full review of “Jacinta” a documentary streaming on Hulu.

Review of the Documentary JACINTA

The beginning of “Jacinta” shows a young mother, Jacinta Hunt, who is prepping to leave prison.  Jacinta is in the same prison as her mother Rosemary and quickly we see that their dynamic is complicated.  Drug use has led them both to prison for various offenses.  The difference between the two, is that Jacinta is getting out soon and when she does, it’s only a short time before Jacinta falls back into opioid abuse leaving a heartbroken father Rich and daughter Caylynn in her wake.

With an intimate look at addiction and the cycle of broken families, so goes “Jacinta”, a new documentary by director Jessica Earnshaw.  Earnshaw shows the beautiful moments which always surround Jacinta and Caylynn reuniting and the hard ones, the stark drug use when Jacinta falls back into using opioids.  It’s easy to look away but this documentary truly forces the viewer to consider the causes of drug use- poverty, abuse and untreated trauma.  

What humanizes Jacinta herself, is that she knows and struggles with her lack of parenting Caylynn.  She tearfully acknowledges that she gave Caylynn to her grandmother Wanda because she knew it would be a safer option.   The chances of abuse or trauma would be less than if Caylynn stayed with her. Yes, Jacinta could be seen as selfish for continuing her drug use but ultimately she made the hard sacrifice to try to ensure that Caylynn wouldn’t fall into the same cycle of trauma and abuse.  

That cycle of trauma and drug abuse is explored in various interviews with Jacinta’s family including her brothers, father and boyfriend.  One of the most devastating interviews is with Jacinta’s brother Todd, who is in prison for drug offenses.  He admits that at 16 he was smoking crack with Rosemary and he always saw Jacinta as innocent but blames himself partially for her descent into addiction.

Also compelling, is the look at the role of motherhood between the women in this film. Rosemary is haunted by her trauma and shame and Jacinta is filled with guilt because of her absence in Caylynn’s life. Even Wanda is compelling as a grandmother who steps up without judgment to take care of Caylynn full-time.

There’s a moment towards the end of the film in which Caylynn tearfully tells her mom that she had eleven years to do what she wanted and when will it be time for Jacinta to do what she wants.  It’s unsaid but the viewer will immediately recognize that all Caylynn wants is her mom’s health and presence.  I don’t know if it’s this heartfelt question that inspires Jacinta to get clean and change her life, or if it’s completing her drug sentence without her mother being in the same prison, but the movie ends with something very important and that is hope.  

Trigger warnings: Discussion of sexual assault and visible opioid use.

Did Jacinta Hunt Stay Clean? An Update!

The film ends with Jacinta visiting with her family but there isn’t any information on if she was able to stay clean. Here’s Jacinta Hunt’s Instagram which shows her progress in sobriety.  

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