Kate likes to drink. She takes a drink when she is happy or sad. When she is stuck in home alone or with her husband in some place. When she needs some courage or to relax a bit. Whatever the situation is, she can't live without a drink. Charlie, the always red-eyed guy is both her life partner and drinking partner. In James Ponsoldt's "Smashed" (2012), Kate suffers many self-inflicted humiliations due to her drinking problems.
The movie starts with Kate and Charlie waking hungover and to find that she has wet the bed. This is not a uncommon occurrence or the beer sips in the shower. She is a adorable teacher but drinks a little before getting into the classroom. Kate unexpectedly vomits in front of her first-grade students, in the classroom, which sets off a string of cover-up lies. Charlie (Aaron Paul) is a laid-back and rich (mostly provided by his parents) music writer who loves drinking with his buddies. The couples idea of fun is get smashed every night.
Kate offers a lady a ride, one night and ends up smoking crack and sleeps in a street. The next night, after 2 a.m., she argues with a store clerk for not giving her the alcohol and again sleeps somewhere in the street. In school, Vice-principal, Dave (Nick Offerman), admits that he was also a alcoholic and was sober for nine years. He encourages her to attend the AA meetings with him. In the meetings, she chooses a sponsor (Octavia L. Spencer) and proves herself to be a disciplined abstainer. Now Charlie is more fearful of Kate becoming sober, and moving emotionally away from him. Also, the lies which Kate said easily, earlier, comes back to haunt her.
After Denzel Washington in "Flight", Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the latest to take the challenging role of an alcoholic. Handling an alcoholic character is usually very hard, since the character should pass through the various stages of use and abuse, denial and acknowledgment, alienating friends and family along the way. In "Smashed", Winstead performance as Kate really qualifies as a revelation. She has crafted a woman with a seemingly perfect life, but comes to realize that the basement is flooded with alcohol. The 28-tear old actress has done lot of cute girl role in many mainstream horror movies (The Ring 2, Final Destination 3, Black Christmas, The Thing), but the leap she has taken with Kate looks both heartbreaking and funny.
Aaron Paul -- the likeable rogue from "Breaking Bad" -- makes Charlie sympathetic at the end, even though he's selfish throughout the movie. He simply and perfectly hits all the expected notes of the recovery drama. Octavia Spencer as Jenny brings wisdom and wariness to her role, while Nick Offerman gives a strong performance as the painfully awkward vice-principal Davies.
Director Ponsoldt spreads out with lighter moments to keep the subject matter from becoming overwhelming. The movie gets a bit superficial after Kate getting into AA, but the performances and Ponsoldt -- Susan Burke's light humor makes it a sharp-spirited indie. The script is said to be drawn from some of the real-life incidents of Burke. Bicycling-while-drunk gives a real-life touch to the movie. The lack of over-dramatization helps us understand the corrosion of relationship between Kate and Charlie, better.
Watch the 80-minute "Smashed" for Winstead's remarkable, mature performance and to have a though-provoking effect about addiction.
Smashed - IMDb