I just finished watching Smashed starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul. The cast is actually one of the main reasons I decided to check it out since I’d never heard of director James Ponsoldt. Then after hearing his new movie The Spectacular Now was out, and good, I figured I’d check it out.
The premise is interesting enough. Winstead plays an alcoholic 1st grade teacher named Kate who, after a few frightening mishaps as a result of her addiction, decides to really pursue some help. Her husband Charlie (Paul) isn’t all too enthusiastic about it but he’s supportive. It’s established very early that this is a real loving relationship, which ends up being extremely important to the pay off of the film.
The majority of the plot deals with the struggle in Kate’s life as she attempts to get sober. Sobriety itself is not the biggest challenge here, but the life she chooses creates some new obstacles. Her co-worker Dave (Nick Offerman) leads her to AA in the first place from what seems like the kindness of his heart. We later come to find out that (no surprise!) he has a crush on her. Boom, ulterior motive and more shit to deal with.
The difficulty she has with sobriety comes mostly with the distance it puts between her and Charlie. While he has his own issues, his drinking is not a problem, and thus, he has no reason to stop. And he doesn’t. But let’s remember, the girl he fell in love with was a hard-drinking, fun-loving mess. His sober wife is boring by comparison, consumed by her quest to clean up her life. I felt real sympathy for Charlie, especially since it’s uncovered that his wealthy parents support their household and even though he sits around all day, he does have a job writing about music. He does very little wrong and his problems with her changing are justified.
I believe Aaron Sorkin said something that basically boils down to this concept; whenever you have two people arguing on screen, try to make sure they’re both right. Ponsoldt gets this, and it makes the struggle that much more authentic. Everyone’s motives in this film make sense.This movie doesn’t take you too many places but I think it does a great job with what it tries to accomplish. It tackles a side of addiction and recovery that I don’t believe gets touched on too much and that’s always refreshing. I’m recommending it.