Smashed Movie Review
Denzel Washington got the glory, Mary Elizabeth Winstead deserved it. Flight won the box office ($161 million worldwide), while Smashed didn't even register ($376 thousand... total). And yet Smashed, another 2012 movie about alcoholism, is a much more earnest and engaging drama than Flight ever was.
Life just isn't fair.
In Smashed, Winstead, who up until this point has primarily played pretty things in such fare as Final Destination 3, Death Proof, Live Free or Die Hard, The Thing and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, finally gets a role where she gets to show her true acting chops. There was some early discussion that she would receive an Oscar nomination for her turn as an elementary school teacher struggling to overcome her alcoholism, and for good reason: she not only gives the best performance of her career, but also one that is stronger than those committed by several of the actual Best Actress nominees.
Smashed rests heavily on Winstead's shoulders, but Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad") also delivers a fine performance as her husband Charlie, who reacts harshly to her decision to get sober. The dynamic between the two is compelling, as Charlie loves his wife, but he loves her more when she is willing to have fun and drink.
Beyond the acting, Smashed is merely ordinary - though ordinary isn't necessarily a bad thing. Directed and co-written by James Ponsoldt, Smashed takes a very straightforward narrative approach. Ponsoldt's presentation is equally straightforward, devoid of visual tricks and fancy editing that has become increasingly common in recent years. The result is a refreshingly simple movie that doesn't break any new ground but tells its story in an accessible way that puts its actors front and center.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.