Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the breakout star—proving she has serious acting chops—of Smashed, an independent drama about the path of an alcoholic trying to find sobriety and the strains it puts on her relationship with her similarly alcoholic husband (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul). The story follows Kate’s struggles with her disease through her work and personal life. A well-crafted movie, Smashed could use about 20 more minutes to flesh out Kate’s transformation but on the whole it’s a worthwhile journey to take.
The extent of Kate’s problems are not initially evident. The film makes it seems that she and Charlie are just fun-loving, hard partying childless adults. But as the movie progresses we see just how bad things have become in their lives. Rather than portraying Kate with broad strokes, making her alcoholism obvious, writer/director James Ponsoldt slowly draws back the curtain, leaving us with the portrait of a broken woman who doesn’t realize just how far she has fallen. And once she’s sober, how hard it is to stay that way.
While there are elements of Alcoholics Anonymous in Smashed, it isn’t as preachy as the similarly-themed Flight. Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Octavia Spencer provide grounding, humanity and a sense of humor.
Nice performances and a gritty realism make Smashed stand out and while its inconsistent tone and rushed narrative keep it from fully connecting with the audience. Smashed is worth checking out.
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