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Smashed

By REBECCA JACOBSON
Though there’s no dearth of films about addiction and recovery, Smashed reeled me back not to Barfly or Days of Wine and Roses, but to Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry’s 1947 modernist novel, which contains some of the most grindingly brutal depictions of alcoholism I’ve read. James Ponsoldt’s affecting Smashed is not a film version of Under the Volcano—far from it. It’s a smaller, funnier and far more precise story, about what happens to a young, hard-drinking woman who decides to get off the bottle. But just as Lowry’s knotty prose leaves the reader wobbly-kneed and disoriented, Smashed—in its own quiet way and with its shaky handheld camera work—also dizzies. In the first 10 minutes, elementary schoolteacher Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, in an inexplicable succession of frumpy flowered dresses) wets the bed, swigs a beer during her morning shower, gulps from a flask in the car before work, vomits in her classroom of first-graders and smokes crack with a stranger. It’s little surprise the school’s assistant principal (an appropriately bumbling Nick Offerman), himself nine years sober, recruits Kate for Alcoholics Anonymous and plays an encouraging wingman as she scopes out a sponsor (a wry Octavia Spencer). Pondsoldt’s not so concerned with novelty of plot, but he offers fair glimpses of the jolly-fun life Kate and husband Charlie (Aaron Paul) once led. But as Kate gets sober, she predictably realizes that lots of unresolved issues squirm unhappily beneath the blur of booze. Balancing earnest performances with unflinching material, Smashed never pretends sobriety is all frivolity and ease—so cheers to that.
 
  • Genres: Drama
  • Running Time: 81 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, December 14, 2012
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Alcohol Abuse, Brief Drug Use, Language, Some Sexual Content ]
  • Critic's Score: B
  • Starring: Mary Winstead [Kate], Aaron Paul [Charlie], Nick Offerman [Mr. Davies], Megan Mullally [Principal Barnes], Kyle Gallner [Owen Hannah], Mackenzie Davis [Millie], Bree Turner [Freda], Mary Place [Rochelle], Octavia Spencer [Jenny], Patti Allison [Rocky], Richmond Arquette [Arlo], Carol Avery [Lily], Susan Burke [Cora], Brad Carter [Felix]
  • Directed by: James Ponsoldt [Director], James Ponsoldt [Screenwriter], Susan Burke [Screenwriter], Jonathan Schwartz [Producer], Andrea Sperling [Producer], Jennifer Cochis [Producer], Audrey Wilf [Executive Producer], Zygi Wilf [Executive Producer], Tobias Datum [Cinematographer], Suzanne Spangler [Film Editor], Eric Johnson [Original Music], Andy Cabic [Original Music], Linda Sena [Production Design], Diaz Jacobs [Costume Designer], Avy Kaufman [Casting], Kim Coleman [Casting]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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