Drinking is fun … for some people. For others, drinking is a slippery slope that leads them down a path of destruction. In James Ponsoldt’s Smashed, teacher Kate is a member of the latter category.
The film chronicles the lives of a young married couple that have a mutual love for alcohol, and lots of it. Kate drinks because she’s depressed. Her husband Charlie drinks because he’s bored. After a night of hard drugs and a morning of throwing up in front of her students, Kate decides to slow things down a bit. With the assistance of a fellow teacher she gets the help she needs to overcome her addiction—with only a few minor speed bumps along the way.
The entire cast is superb, but Mary Elizabeth Winstead is truly the star of the show. Her raw performance captivated me from stat to finish. My only complaint about the film is that it is difficult for me to side with a character whose viewpoint of alcoholism as a disease rather than an addiction differs from my own.
In the film, Kate describes being powerless to stop her addiction: “I just want to be able to have one beer without it turning into twenty,” Her ability to moderate isn’t alcohol’s fault. If it gets to the point where one is abusing a substance, I feel that the fault lies with the user, not the substance itself.
Thankfully Kate does eventually turn her life around, but her husband continues down a path of self-destruction. The pain and anxiety of having an alcoholic spouse while in recovery proves very difficult for Kate, who is much younger than the others in her recovery group. Smashed is sad and heart wrenching as you watch a young couple struggle with things way beyond their maturity level. This is a definite must-see for our generation; it is a captivating look and warning to those who may indulge a little too often.