by M. Faust
No matter how much we enjoy the weekend, Monday morning comes to us all. If Kate Hannah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up with a killer hangover from a weekend of drinking, it’s nothing she can’t handle with a not-yet-empty beer in the shower and a nip from the flask before she starts work. And if her job is teaching first grade at a Los Angeles school, she makes the giddiness work for her. Or so she thinks.
Smashed introduces us to Kate just as she’s starting to realize that she has a drinking problem. It’s hard to ignore that well-adjusted people do not wake up in a field, certainly not twice in one week. Once she makes the decision to seek help, she sticks with it: AA works for her, at least as far as keeping her from drinking. What it doesn’t help with is dealing with a world that doesn’t quite understand, from her husband (Aaron Paul), a professional partier, to her co-workers (Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally), who see her problems through their own very specific prisms.
Smashed was written by James Ponsoldt (who also directed) and Susan Burke, both of whom have acknowledged histories of alcohol abuse, and there’s no reason to doubt the verisimilitude of anything that happens here. As an entry in a deep genre of addiction stories, it’s often almost lighthearted, sidestepping the usual gruesome displays of abusers bottoming out. The problem with it is that it seems more concerned with avoiding cliches than coming up with a specific perspective. The ending indicates that the filmmakers have seen The Days of Wine and Roses, but it doesn’t nearly have that films emotional (if melodramatic) kick. Well acted and visually impressive, Smashed feels undernourished: the end credits roll at 75 minutes, well before my curiosity about these characters was satisfied.
Watch the trailer for Smashed
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