This is a serious movie about drinking but not a depressing one. You notice that in the way it handles Charlie (Aaron Paul), Kate's husband. He is also her drinking buddy. When two alcoholics are married, they value each other's company because they know they can expect forgiveness and understanding, while a civilian might not choose to share their typical days.
Smashed is a small but powerful film that goes through both the highs and lows of alcoholism and sobering up. I was fascinated at how realistic the lead characters of Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul) were on the surface as just a pair of fun loving people who like to drink to have a good time, maybe occasionally going overboard. As someone who rarely drinks myself, I have observed similar behavior far too often and never thought much of it, but Smashed explores the deeper issues beneath the surface masked by the funny and entertaining antics performed while under the influence. As the film unfolds some of these scenes that seemed hilarious become tainted in a sense with the darkness of Kate's situation, highlighting the complexities of identifying and dealing with alcohol addiction.
On paper, there is nothing truly groundbreaking about the film. We've seen tons of films about alcoholics, AA, young struggling couples, etc., but for me this film approaches these issues in such an easily accessible and realstic way. Often times I feel substance abuse issues tend to be a bit sensationalized in modern media where there isn't an interesting or important story unless someone gets arrested or there needs to be an intervention. That is not the case here, Kate is not quite at rock bottom when she makes the decision to sober up, yet the film (mainly in part to a show-stopping lead performance by Winstead and a charismatic supporting performance from Paul) manages to create a set of compelling characters the viewer can embrace as if they had just been hanging out and laughing with them the night before, and sympathize and cry for by the end of the film.
Again as someone who doesn't drink, I found the film relevant to me whether it be as a retrospective look at people I know personally or even at myself in need of a lifestyle change by breaking a bad cycle and confronting my problems with honesty. The film does this while remaining grounded and never seeming overly preachy or becoming an school special.
Smashed" is excellent.... it deals with addiction issues and dysfunctional family system and alcoholism issues.... but it's far from being a "downer", it's very positive and intelligent in its take on this material ....great cast !....great direction....great script.....a very MATURE, INSIGHTFUL and THOUGHTFUL **** God knows we could these qualities a lot more these days !! Go see it !!
A terrific performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a rock-bottom alcoholic is only one reason to appreciate Smashed, an affecting and immersive addiction drama about the unforeseen pitfalls along the road to recovery.
Winstead, who appears in nearly every scene, can be compelling but, like the material, often pushes too hard, especially in Kate's climactic dive off the wagon. In a far more limited role, Paul is lower-key and convincing.
Finally, after all the B-movies and weak horror flicks, Mary Elizabeth Winstead has a real shot at showing us what she's really capable of. She's the shining star in this, a well made, even handed and realistic insight into addiction. Aaron Paul supports her brilliantly, though he is in danger of being typecast as the partying substance abuser.
"Smashed" 10 Scale Rating: 7.5 (Very Good) ...
The Good: Mary Elizabeth Winstead absolutely steals the show and should have received more Oscar buzz. The story is one that most of us can relate to and is well written. What happens when we grow as people and binge drinking (and the silly antics that come with it) is no longer fun, yet all of our friends are still living that life? The struggles that one person goes through with her husband and group of friends as she tries to remain sober is both poignant and thought provoking.
The Bad: It is listed as 1:21 in length, but it is actually only 70 minutes long, which is extremely short. There is an interaction with Winstead's character and a co-worker that was out of place and lingered throughout the film. It was an attempt at crude humor and did not fit the dark comedy/drama setting at all.
Wow, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, I really liked her in 'Scott Pilgrim', 'The Thing' and the new 'Die Hard' movie and even though she was good in them she was brilliant in this. I imagine the writing and directing team had first hand knowledge of alcoholism to give Mary Elizabeth Winstead such spot on direction. I have seen this exact behaviour before as I'm sure everyone has so I knew what I was seeing was an accurate portrayal. This wasn't an easy film to watch but it was rewarding. It's far from a new story but it's always nice when an old idea is given a facelift with excellent performances. Aaron Paul plays the husband really well but I watch 'Breaking Bad' so I can't quite see him as anyone other than Jesse, lol. The brilliant Octavia Spencer has little to do but it rounds this great cast off nicely. This is a very good film.
Highly Recommended Score: 7.5/10 N∆V ****
that cake was really moist..
The feature doesn't flinch to go into dark places and takes bold decisions throughout the course of it that helps the audience stick to the seats even though it has a familiar premise with predictable twists and turns. Susan Burke and James Ponsoldt; the co-writers are in their A game doing some of their best work in here within a limited span and still offering enough range and room to each individual character. James Ponsoldt has done a decent job on executing it where its short and smart editing works in its favor even though it is not his best work till date. Mary Elizabeth Winstead; at the heart of it, is surprisingly amazing in her portrayal of an alcoholic and unlike the premise, is supported thoroughly by a great cast like Aaron Paul, Nick Offerman and Octavia Spencer. Smashed is your typical "alcoholic" feature with all the familiar ingredients installed by the writers to make the equation interesting and spicy as much as possible which works for the most part of it.
Some people saying "Days of Wine and Roses", yes, and I'd add also... "Clean and Sober" was definitely the modern gold standard, for this type of film, as much abuse and fury is involved in AA and ACA (which can affect generations of family underneath, I should know!) ! This makes AA or family dysfunction just too too easy, or the Bohemian/Oregonian granola hipster form applied to alcoholism, gimme a break here, the characters are much too "cleaned up well" for this!! Any of the addicts out of THE WIRE would do nicely over these ones! or the stereotypical nerd male teacher in a Cosby sweater who also is a sheltered pervert, proof that Sundance is starting to sadly become a parody of itself like all the other multiplex lamestream films (It's white people too, I swear! and I should know since I am one!)! Seriously, even Don **** offers more of a character study, even if I have to put up with all the lame commercials on AMC...