Another solid film coming out of Sundance, Smashed is one of those films that may seem like “just another Sundance film” but has enough twists and interesting dynamics that is seperates it from the pack. And though Mary Elizabeth Winstead steals the movie with one of her best performances to date, the film’s strong supporting cast and a number of surprising and fun moments are really what make it a success.

The Players:

  • Director: James Ponsoldt
  • Producers: Jonathan Schwartz, Andrea Sperling, Jennifer Cochis
  • Writer: Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt
  • Cinematographer: Tobias Datum
  • Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Mary Kay Place

Sundance Synopsis:

Kate and Charlie like to have a good time. Their marriage thrives on a shared fondness for music, laughter . . . and getting smashed. When Kate’s partying spirals into hard-core asocial behavior, compromising her job as an elementary schoolteacher, something’s got to give. But change isn’t exactly a cakewalk. Sobriety means she will have to confront the lies she’s been spinning at work, her troubling relationship with her mother, and the nature of her bond with Charlie.

The Good:

  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead: It’s wonderful to see her leading a powerful drama and doing it brilliantly. It’s also great to see her running around with no make-up, in horrible clothing and being completely comfortable in letting herself indulge in this extremely rich, off the wall, non-cliched role. She’s made splashes before, but this is really a film that will hopefully bring her career to another level.
  • Pushing the Boundaries: With a film that deals with relationships and subject matter we’ve seen before, it’s refreshing to have a few moments that still manage to surprise the audience, without them being completely unrealistic.
  • The Relationships: Aaron Paul and Winstead are wonderful on screen together and completely believable as that quirky, close, in love, Silverlake couple. Their chemistry is beautiful and together they make for a powerful duo.
  • Nick Offerman: He has some of the best lines in the film, ones that very few actors could get away with saying and still have an audience like the. He’s wonderful to watch and again, added an interesting dynamic to the film that no one really see’s coming.

The Bad:

  • The Peak: The film peaked a little early and then the finale didn’t really pay off as much as it could have. It was honest ending, and one that deserves respect, but there was a part of me that wanted a little something more. In the end, there wasn’t a strong or clear message to the film. Perhaps I’ve just seen too many films in a row that don’t really end with a bang, but this one did such a great job at setting up all of these wonderful story-lines, that it felt like there could have been that extra little kicker at the end that would have made it even more impressive.

Overall:

Packed with a fun mixtures of humor, darkness, drama, and a number beautiful performances this is a Sundance darling that’s well worth your time.

Rating: 7.5