Smashed is one of those films that leave you thinking about the plot and its characters for days. It’s a drama/indie film directed by James Ponsoldt and written by Ponsoldt and Susan Burke. It follows elementary school teacher, Kate Hannah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) and her husband Charlie Hannah (Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad) struggle with alcoholism. Charlie uses his job as a journalist reviewing bands at local bars and venues, to maintain and continue their love for drinking. When Kate decides to join AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and sober up, their marriage is put to the test. My movie review on the smashing film, Smashed, below! (I know, cheesy right?)
SIDE NOTE: I love movies and books but this is my first movie review so cut me some slack if it’s the worst thing ever written.
The thing about independent films is they’re independent for a reason. There are no loud, action-packed scenes with motorcycle gangs firing at each other as they drive off of a cliff into an ocean of man-eating sharks. There are no invisible demons haunting families from the comfort of a little girl’s closet. Small independent films like Smashed take heavy, universal themes and embed them into normal, relatable characters while exploring real stories like alcoholism and relationships. Smashed does this well. It doesn’t shy from the crass traits and grimness of growing alcoholism and the denial human beings can possess. Particularly with Kate’s behavior which rapidly escalates from sloppily singing karaoke in a bar with her husband to waking up in the middle of nowhere at 4am after smoking crack with a homeless woman. The question of the movie eventually evolves into, when does drinking become a problem? It shows the slow, yet painfully large, steps people can take from having a few drinks to blacking out, alone in another city.
The film itself is appealing for those who enjoy dark comedies but I felt it could’ve done more both with the character’s alcoholism and the issue of her marriage. Despite the description of the film, the movie doesn’t delve deep into Charlie’s character or their marriage and instead closely follows the effect of Kate’s choices in her alcoholism and her sobriety. The film also could’ve shown more scenes building up to the character’s budding alcoholism or portrayed the real struggle of maintaining sobriety. The struggle isn’t so much getting sober as it is maintaining it. Since it’s a Hollywood film, the character accepts her alcoholism easily and recovers swiftly.
The acting itself was great. The actress, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, does an amazing job in playing likeable, fun-loving, schoolteacher and alcoholic. She keeps the audience engaged by portraying two different sides of one character. This movie captivated me and convinced me to look out for more of her films. As for Aaron Paul, I’m a huge fan but I felt his character, Charlie, hadn’t been created with much depth other than playing the title of “drinking husband.
Overall, I feel this movie is a 7/10 on the Drea-Meter. I’d still recommend it to anyone who is interested in independent films, themes of alcoholism and sobriety, or anyone in love with the marvelous Mary Elizabeth Winstead.