When alcoholics are the protagonists in a film, the possibilities for interesting character studies and drama loom large. Examples include The Lost Weekend (1945), Days of Wine and Roses (1962) and Leaving Las Vegas (1995).
Sony Pictures’ Smashed is much like Wine and Roses, with a married couple who relate to each other through drinking.
Charlie and Kate Hannah (Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead) spend their nights getting wasted with friends and their days hungover and muddling through. Kate is a schoolteacher and Charlie spends his time drinking, playing video games and going to concerts. After Kate throws up in front of her class and smokes crack with a stranger one night, she thinks it’s time to slow down on the partying. But it's tough because Charlie won’t join her in sobriety.
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally co-star as Kate’s colleagues, and Mary Kay Place and Octavia Spencer play her mother and AA sponsor, respectively.
Smashed is one of two films this fall focusing on professionals with alcohol problems. The other is Robert Zemeckis’ Flight. The Zemeckis movie dealt with alcoholism from a male perspective, while Smashed hits it from a female POV.
Directed by James Ponsoldt, Smashed is a revelation in terms of Winstead’s performance. Paul on the other hand, comes off as an afterthought. Although marketed as a co-lead feature, the movie is really a one-woman show.