Friday, November 23, 2012

Movie Review: "Smashed"

The entertainment world loves addiction stories. Countless movies, television shows, books, songs, even plays and musicals have found inspiration in the struggles faced when fighting a drug, alcohol, or other addiction, and the effects the addiction has on those around the person.

Smashed is a small movie, but one completely worth watching. It's a shame it's gotten so little publicity in the media. Kate Hannah (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a first-grade teacher whose marriage to Charlie (Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad) mostly consists of nights spent drinking at a bar, partying with friends until the wee hours of the morning, drunken lawn golf, and drunken sex. Recently Kate has discovered that her drinking has led her into some frightening situations far beyond the usual, and she is losing control.

When a mistake at school leads to her lying to her students and her boss, she begins to realize she might need help for her drinking problem. But she's probably not an alcoholic. Supported by her colleague (Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman), she begins attending AA meetings, where she finds a sponsor, the world-wise Jenny (an underused Octavia Spencer). And as she begins confronting the fact that she really does have a problem with alcohol, she realizes the problem is compounded by her relationships with her husband and her estranged mother (Mary Kay Place). And those realizations lead her down a road fraught with more challenges than she's prepared to handle.

At times, Smashed seems a little movie-of-the-week, but Winstead's electrifying performance buoys it above the usual damsel-with-a-problem fare. You know where her drinking will lead her yet you watch almost with your hands over your eyes, because you sympathize with someone who has let her life spiral out of control without her realizing it. Her acting is as effective during some of the more quiet moments as they are when she is ranting at someone. Aaron Paul, as the husband who realizes his wife's recovery is leaving him behind, proves that the Emmys he's earned for his work on Breaking Bad aren't a fluke—he's both angry and at times, completely vulnerable.

It makes me sad when movies like this get so little screen time amidst the major releases, but my hope is that Winstead at the very least will get some recognition come awards time, so people will try and find the movie on Netflix. It's not a perfect movie, but the acting and the emotional depth the characters show make it one worth watching.


  1. That was a likably painful film.

    The humane combination of desperation and understanding shared between the married leads was some grown folks filmmaking.

    Way to give it some shine. You think some positive word of mouth like this could alert people for when it comes to Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, etc?

  2. I certainly hope so. So glad I got to see it.