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Smashed

March 21, 2013

Smashed movie poster

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Smashed is the fantastic tale of a person becoming sober. Does it solve every problem? Nope. Will the person be forced to sever ties with lifelong friends and spouse? Yep. Will the poster feature the main character smiling like she is in some sort of romantic comedy? Yep.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead should have received an Oscar nomination for her role as an alcoholic school teacher who decides to become sober. She inhabits the role with aplomb and at the very least is now on the radar for bigger and better roles. Producers will jump at the chance to hire a woman who played such a difficult role with relative ease and grace. She did her time in Deathproof, Final Destination 3, The Thing and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and with Smashed finally gets to showcase some skills in a smart film. Roger Ebert sums this film up perfectly when he wrote “This is a serious movie about drinking but not a depressing one.”

Smashed Aaron Paul

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The moments that lead to the sobriety ring true and Winstead plays them off with believable maturity. You first meet the character as she is rushing out of bed late for work. The process seems to happen often and you can tell by her hair and clothes that rushing to work is nothing new. The prior night was filled with copious amounts of booze and there is evidence of it on the bed in the morning. These people get so drunk that relieving themselves in  bed is a common and normal occurrence.  She speeds to her job, takes a swig out of a flask (recovery drinking) and eventually throws up while energetically teaching her first grade students. She tells her students she is pregnant and this opens up the door to tall tales, drunk bicycle riding and smoking crack (only once).

Smashed Octavia Spencer

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The rest of the film involves her getting sober while at odds with her love husband/best friend/drinking buddy/terrible influence of a husband played by Aaron Paul. The two genuinely love each other yet cannot be together if she is going to follow sobriety through. The relationship is handled realistically and I loved the third dimension to Paul’s character which I will not divulge.

Smashed Mary Elizabeth Winstead

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Helping her towards clean living are Octavia Spencer and a recovering cocaine addict (Mr. Ron Swanson) who happens to be her assistant principal and boss . You can tell that they lived wild and crazy lives fulls of stories and bruises. However, they’ve calmed down and become regular folk who live boring yet sober lives. I love that both of them still haven’t figured it out but appreciate every day not under the influence.  Nick Offerman has made the word “moist” incredibly cringe worthy though.

Smashed Nick Offerman

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My fiancee and I always knew that Winstead could act. In this film she dresses down but doesn’t feel like she is going the Charlize Theron (Monster) or Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) route. Her poised and controlled performance will win over whoever watches it but didn’t get the press that the other two actresses received. She doesn’t get naked, kill people or have showstopping monologues.   She inhabits her role and doesn’t do anything flashy and that is why she didn’t garner any Oscar talk. The role seems easy and not forced which is a revelation. In the wrong hands this film could have hurt the soul and felt like a made for television drama. Instead, it is an intelligent reflection on alcoholism and sobriety.

Watch Smashed. Dig Smashed. Appreciate that it won’t depress you.

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