So glad that with each Sundance screening, it’s been undeniable that Mary’s performance in Smashed is amazing and critics seem to agree. I’ve been posting numerous reviews from people who’ve seen the film, and they all seem to enjoy the film. Here’s the latest review, first one coming from Cinema Blend:
It wouldn’t be Sundance without a harrowing drama about addiction, and as far as those kinds of movies go, Smashed has the goods. The primary appeal is the lead performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the beauty known for intriguing roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Thing, who plays a woman spiraling into alcoholism who finally realizes she needs help. She and her husband (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul) have spent years drinking way too much and having plenty of fun together, but one particularly brutal hangover at work one morning puts the gears in motion for Winstead’s Kate to finally make a change.
Thankfully Smashed doesn’t wallow too long in the “rock bottom” part of the story, allowing us to watch Kate indulging in some truly bad behaviors– smoking crack and spending a night on the street being the worst– but focusing the story around her efforts to recover, particularly AA meetings and new friendships with other recovering alcoholics played by Nick Offerman and Octavia Spencer. The biggest heartbreak of the film comes from the way her staying sober begins to break apart her marriage; Paul and Winstead make it obvious why these two love each other, but also why a sober wife and a drunk husband can’t find common ground.
Smashed, which doesn’t yet have distribution but surely will soon, will be sold based on Winstead’s performance, and though it verges into some histrionics from time to time, Winstead commits full-throttle, and shines even in the smaller moments, especially when put together with Paul. Though the film’s story could have been a little cleaner and more authentic, the details are all correct, and it’s always good to see talented actors stretch a little, especially given Nick Offerman’s recent fame as the utterly different Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation. With a little more humor than your average addiction drama, and a willingness to have hope for its characters, Smashed has real emotional weight without putting you through the wringer– not a small bonus at this point in a long, long film festival.
Joblo also reviews the film, but since it’s pretty lengthy, I’ll only post a bit of it but click on the link to read it in full:
At the public screening of SMASHED, I told the director that I felt his film was our generation’s THE LOST WEEKEND or DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, and I stand by that sentiment. Nowadays, it’s the road to recovery from hard drugs that are usually depicted, but SMASHED shows us an addiction that will be far closer to home for many of us, as who doesn’t like a good stiff drink every now and then?
If anything, it’s an absolute tour-de-force for star Mary Elizabeth-Winstead, whose performance as a damaged addict struck me as being even better than Anne Hathaway’s lauded turn in the similar RACHEL GETTING MARRIED which netted her an Oscar nomination. I only know Winstead from her roles in big-budget Hollywood films like SCOTT PILGRIM and LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, and while I’ve always liked her- I never realized just how talented she really is. This strikes me as the type of performance that could be Award-worthy if given the right kind of build-up by whichever studio picks it up.
Part of Collider’s review:
Alcoholism is a serious problem. We know that. Addiction can, and usually does, ruins lives. We know that. A lot of people find Alcoholics Anonymous a life-saver (although its effectiveness is debatable). We know that. On the page, Smashed doesn’t bring anything new to the table. A young woman struggles to deal with her alcoholism and how her new-found sobriety creates its own problems. But what transforms Smashed from a good-yet-predictable clean-and-sober tale is Mary Elizabeth Winstead giving the best performance of her career thus far.
Some actors are only as good as the material they’re given. Other actors are good no matter what material they’re given. With Smashed, Winstead proves she’s the latter. We’ve seen alcoholics in movies before and we’ll see them again. She plays a convincing drunk, but the strength of her performance is in watching Kate fight for every single moment of her sobriety. A scene where Kate talks about her alcoholism at her first AA meeting is absolutely devastating, not because she’s done horrible, unforgivable things, but because it’s the first time she’s probably ever admitted out-loud how unhappy she is.