Tuesday, 20 January 2015

DVD Review: Smashed (2012)

Smashed tells the story of Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Kate, a twenty-something primary school teacher who happens to be a functioning, although not all the time, alcoholic who drinks at any given opportunity. When a late night of drinking with her irresponsible husband Charlie, played by Aaron Paul, results in her throwing up in front of her class, a lie about her being pregnant soon grows out of control. Realising that everytime she drinks something bad happens, as we see when she ends up smoking crack and falling asleep on the street, she starts to go to AA meetings and begins to rebuild her life. The only problem is she soon realises that, her drinking buddy cum husband isn't going to support her and their marriage is built on their shared love of alcohol. 

The major issue with Smashed is it doesn't feel like it's sure of what it wants to be. On the one hand we have a film attempting to deal with the difficult subject of alcoholism and addiction. But on the other hand the film wants to be a cutesy indie film, best shown through the cheery, acoustic score that accompanies throughout. These two opposing desires conflict throughout, creating a jarring effect on the audience, leaving us a little unsure of the director's intentions.

Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman is the film's other flaw. Offerman makes an appearance as Dave, a colleague of Kate's who introduces her to the AA classes. On first impressions, Dave is a likeable character but as his intentions become clear it seems like it is one issue too much for the film to deal with and feels a little shoe-horned in to beef up Offerman's character. 

Despite these flaws, it's the film's performances from it's central characters, that allows it to stand out. Mary Elizabeth Winstead anchors the film with a strong central performance that we invest in. While Aaron Paul's role as the unsupportive husband is a little lacking in the first two thirds, he makes up for it in the last act as he begins to acknowledge Kate's problem's and begins to realise he is the crux of the problem. And it is this central coupling of Kate and Charlie and the film's study of the fragility of a marriage dependent on alcholol, that allows the film to shine. 

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