(Film review) Smashed (2012): a journey through sobriety and the complicate nature of addiction and relationships.
Director James Ponsoldt creates a realistic picture of addiction in Kate’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) tough journey through alcoholism and recovery. Drinking has become to rule her life and eventually takes her in to really dark places. In order to overcome alcoholism, she has to make some difficult choices and let parts of her life behind.
The movie looks grimy at same points, but so are the places that Kate finds herself. It does not give much away visually, only the contrast of her colourful and happy work place (as a first grade teacher) with her hard-core drinking nights out with her husband, Charlie (Aaron Paul, not dealing meth – yes, this was a Breaking Bad reference, deal with it!).
The plot was credible with Wistead and Paul feeling very much like real people. It was an interesting take on alcoholism because this film is more careful to show not only the self-destructive part of this process, but mostly how your social relations can be obstacles for recovery. Most of Kate’s life has been surrounded by heavy drinkers, which has definitely enabled her to keep “functional” or undiscovered for so long.
Wistead definitely has given one of her best performances yet and I can’t wait to see what she does next – hopefully, she will stop appearing on remakes of my favourite horror movies, just saying); she manages to keep Kate relatable even when she does some cringe worthy things. Kate’s highs and lows are really extreme, but it feels more of a writing device than an actual acting choice. Aaron Paul does troubled, sexy and grungy in his sleep. In this case, he plays well this partying husband who is trying to be supportive to his wife; yet doesn’t really get the depths of her addiction whilst seeing in her changing life style (especially in her commitment to the AA) a threat to their relationship. In no way does he come off as cruel or unloving, but he simply lacks the tools to help her.
The movie ending is very consistent with the characters’ story arc yet it is not patronising or obvious, which is always a plus. It’s an overall good movie with great performances. Director Ponsoldt has also recently released “Spectacular Now”, which has gotten him some pretty impressive reviews, so it appears he is trailing a very interesting career.
First posted in Post-Production Reviews. Link to the film’s IMDB page.