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Sundance 2012 Review: SMASHED with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul

Smashed was one of those few films at the Sundance Film Festival that I left satisfyingly uplifted after a heavy barrage of drama. Usually the films here at Sundance end on a dark and depressing note. I'm not saying this film didn't have any dark moments; after all, it is a drama that deals with the heavy and sensitive issues of alcoholism. 

The story follows a character named Kate played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim v the World). It revolves around her coming to terms with her problems with drinking, and ends up taking the audience on a journey of witnessing this person crawl out of the dark abyss of the demon in the bottle after hitting rock bottom. For anyone that has ever had an addiction, you know hard it can be to stop. 

This was a wonderfully inspiring film that touches on some of life's major issues that some of us may have faced in one way or another throughout our lives, so it's something I think the audience can relate to. This is a heavy film to watch, but even though the subject matter seems gloomy, there's a light at the end of the tunnel scattered with some spots of good humor, and one very creepy moment. I loved that this movie had an uplifting ending, because I was so afraid that it wouldn't. You never know at Sundance! It just felt good to leave the theater with a sense of hope. 

The film was directed by James Ponsoldt and he really did a amazing job capturing the heartache and pain of life while keeping a positive optimistic attitude. Winstead was incredible in this film and gives one of the best performances I've seen so far at the festival. I also believe its the best performance of her career. I was truly impressed by the acting she did. The film also starred Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) who did a great job in the film as well. He played Kate's husband. The guy has got some great acting skills, and I hope to see him start taking on more feature film roles.

I think Smashed is a film eventually worth checking out. It really was a very well made film with powerful performances and a fantastic story.

Here's the 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.

Many films indulge the dramatic highs and lows of addiction. Refreshingly, Smashed is interested in the unglamorous middle path—what stumbling through recovery looks like. As Kate tests new boundaries and shoulders the consequences of her choices, this subtle story of imperfect transformation taps into truths about the challenges and losses intrinsic to living life honestly. Genuine performances and a grounded sense of place create an authentic, textured world where three-dimensional characters—neither all bad nor all good—occupy the uncomfortable grey zone of being human. 

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