Digital Spy has reviewed Smashed and wrote that Mary impresses in the “raw drama”:
Winstead is fearless, playing a variation on her ‘good girl’ persona that feels absolutely real and painfully relatable – you needn’t have any experience with substance addiction to identity with her struggle. But beyond the terror of what the addiction does to Kate physically and emotionally, it’s her slow process of coming to terms with reality that gives the story both its sadness and its strength. Because we like Kate and Charlie, and their relationship genuinely seems to be grounded in love, we want them to be able to work through their problems.Ponsoldt tells his poignant, honest story in unsentimental strokes, and his script is both sharply observed and consistently surprising. He offers just enough in the way of backstory to add shading to Winstead’s already nuanced performance, with a childhood weight issue referenced early on and Kate’s unashamedly boozy mother (Mary Kay Place) making a charged appearance later in the film.Smashed is a smart, sensitive and appropriately uncomfortable watch, offering an unrelentingly clear-eyed view of dependence, both emotional and substance-based.
Often we watch films in which actors portray those afflicted with addiction and there’s something so disingenuous about the performance — it’s either over the top, or clearly a sober person meekly playing dress-up, stumbling around in someone else’s shoes. Not so with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who gives what I feel is the performance of her career up to this point. As Kate, Winstead plays an alcoholic, married to her similarly afflicted husband (Aaron Paul), and while we’ve been conditioned to see drunk women on TV and in movies as cute and slurring, clumsy baby deer, Winstead gives us the antithesis with her brutal, unflinching portrayal of true alcoholism. In my review I noted that when intoxicated, her voice becomes something unnatural and inhuman, and it’s completely unsettling to watch. When alcoholism takes over, the people we once knew no longer exist — they may look the same, but their mind has been replaced by someone we no longer know, and just the same, Winstead may look like Winstead the actress, but in ‘Smashed,’ she’s no longer the same person, and it’s incredible to watch.