‘Smashed’ Movie Review – Addiction for Real
Addiction is not pretty and it is not glamorous, something of which the cast and crew of the new film, Smashed, are well aware. Yet while the movie is about one woman’s struggle with alcoholism, it’s also about her journey to become an adult and the hard choices she must make when it becomes clear that the man she’s chosen to spend her life with isn’t ready or willing to change with her.
Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a drinking problem that she’s only able to acknowledge when she pukes in front of her elementary school class and has to claim she’s pregnant to hide her hangover. The lie spirals out of control, but it also starts her on a path towards sobriety. Unfortunately, Kate’s husband, Charlie (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul), doesn’t see their partying as a problem; he actually prefers his wife to be drunk and fun.
No punches are pulled in this film. Alcoholism is not presented as sexy or fun. We’re “treated” to scenes of Kate begging to buy wine and peeing in the corner of a convenience store. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you can sympathize with her if you’ve never had an addiction as debilitating as hers, but watching her darkest moments does make you hope that she’ll come through the end of the movie sober.
But the film isn’t totally about addiction. It’s more about how some relationships, even loving ones, can be just as unhealthy as downing a fifth of Jack. Kate wants to be sober so badly, to prove to herself that she can do it and prove to her mother (Mary Kay Place) that she isn’t just kidding herself. But how can an addict go cold turkey when their spouse is constantly tempting them? Charlie can’t see how much more difficult he’s making things for Kate because he’s not at a point where he’s ready to acknowledge that he’s just as addicted as she is. And a relationship can’t move forward if the two people in it are in completely different places.
This wasn’t an easy film to watch, but it was well-written and extremely well-acted. The two leads had a wonderful chemistry that made it easy to imagine why they fell in love in the first place. Additionally, the secondary cast were also at the top of their game, in particular Octavia Spencer who played Kate’s AA sponsor.
If nothing else, this film might make a few heavy partiers stop and wonder how much longer the party can go on before the fun turns dangerous. That would not be a bad legacy for a independent film.
Smashed opens in limited release on Friday, Ocotober 12th.