Sundance Journal: ‘Smashed’

As a fan of both Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul from ‘Breaking Bad’, I went into ‘Smashed’ with highest of expectations. To my surprise, they were met and surpassed.

‘Smashed’ tells the story of a young married couple whose happiness stems solely from abusing alcohol. After a few horrible incidents, Kate (Winstead) embarrassingly realizes that she’s an alcoholic. While her husband Charlie drinks just as much, he doesn’t have the same dark symptoms of alcoholism that she does. Only after her drinking gets her into a mess of potential trouble at work does Kate decide that it’s time to get sober. So she enlists in AA and finds a strong sponsor (Octavia Spencer).

It isn’t easy, but Kate finds the will and strength to stay alcohol-free. Being around Charlie and his frequent booze-filled nights, she finds it harder and harder to stay clean. Before long, their marriage isn’t what it used to be. They never talk and even seem to loathe one another for their social differences.

I imagine that couples who drink this much might find that ‘Smashed’ hits a little too closely to home. After seeing the film, I’ve heard several people around town talking about how ‘Smashed’ has inspired them to stop drinking. The ongoing message of the film is that couples must be on the same page in order for things to keep working out. One lifestyle change has the potential to destroy everything.

The performances in ‘Smashed’ make the movie work so well. Winstead gives her best performance to date, and Paul shows that he’s ready to make the full-time move to the big screen. The characters are the main focus of the film and this duo works in such a way that every unspoken emotion is understood by the audience. The final scene exemplifies this the best. Even if you haven’t been in this same alcohol-induced scenario before, you’ll understand exactly what it’s like to be in their shoes.

Rating: ★★★★★

4 comments

  1. I liked it too. Loved Winstead, but thought Paul took a back seat. Although, truthfully I thought that Nick Offerman stole the movie from those two anyway. He was hilariously great and simultaneously creepy in this.

  2. JM

    Alcoholism took away my foster sister’s husband, triplets, and left her homeless, with a bust of prostitution, down into the full ‘Naked Lunch.’

    Does this film offer catharsis, or only the melodrama of pain?

  3. Luke Hickman

    Agreed. It’s quite a journey. I’m no alcoholic, but this movie has completely scared me away from becoming one. Not only because of how it portrays alcoholism, but because it shows you how difficult it is to remove it from your life once it’s there. It’s not an easy movie to watch, but one well-worth the experience.

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