ByTowne ByTowne Cinema
325 Rideau St. Ottawa K1N 5Y4
Info Line: (613) 789-FILM
Alcohol isn’t just the great social lubricant: it can also be the glue holding troubled relationships together in a state of inebriated dysfunction. In the powerful, uncompromising relationship drama Smashed, a hard-partying schoolteacher Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her slacker music journalist husband Charlie (Aaron Paul) share a bond sealed through poisonous co-dependence and alcoholism.
Kate fancies herself the life of the party, a fun and freewheeling drunk, but after bottoming out with a night of crack-fueled oblivion, she is forced to admit she has a problem. The equally hard-drinking Charlie isn’t willing to make any such concessions and bitterly resents his wife’s newfound sobriety. When Kate enrolls in Alcoholics Anonymous at the behest of her school’s vice-principal (Nick Offerman), the boozy bond holding their marriage together begins to fall apart.
Charlie and Kate’s relationship is initially defined by mutual enabling and codependence that first passes for tenderness but morphs into something much darker and more unsettling once Kate unsteadily embraces sobriety while Paul continues to lose himself in a boozy haze. To its credit, Smashed doesn’t posit Alcoholics Anonymous as a magic cure-all: sobriety creates its own set of problems above and beyond the rift it causes in Kate and Charlie’s marriage. If anything, Kate’s life becomes more difficult after she stops drinking and is forced to face the mess she’s made without the crutch of beer or whiskey to fall back on.
Smashed is a film of pummeling intensity and bruised emotions, a refreshingly complex look at how one partner’s emotional development can play havoc with the other partner’s security and sense of self. It periodically recalls the equally punishing (in a good way) Blue Valentine, another unflinching look at a marriage in peril; it’s powerful drama that offers no easy answers, just a whole lot of difficult questions and ambiguity.”
– Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club
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