DVD Review: Great Performances Anchor Smart Drama of ‘Smashed’

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CHICAGO – I’m upset I didn’t see “Smashed” in time to produce my year-end lists for 2012 (Sony Pictures Classics inexplicably never sent a screener and I missed it in theaters). Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s stellar lead performance and Aaron Paul’s pitch-perfect support would have been included in both of my performance pieces. They’re so good here, balancing the truth of youthful addiction in ways that we rarely see in film.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

That’s the key reason that “Smashed” works as well as it does — truth. Director James Ponsoldt is a true talent (and his new film, “The Spectacular Now,” will be playing the Chicago Critics Film Festival next month), finding honesty in what could have been cliched situations. It helps that he has an actress as fully committed as Winstead, playing a role that constantly threatens to segue into something Hollywood or predictable but never allowing her to do so. This is a true portrait of addiction at an age when people often confuse just partying a lot like young people do with a serious problem. And I think it’s fascinating to watch how addiction can unite people and recovery can tear them apart. The end feels a little abrupt but I think I’d have a bigger problem if the film ended with a period instead of an ellipsis. Don’t miss this drama.

Smashed was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 5, 2013
Smashed was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 5, 2013
Photo credit: Sony

Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul, TV’s Breaking Bad ) are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and drinking…especially the drinking. When Kate’s drinking leads her to dangerous places and her job as a school teacher is put into jeopardy, she decides to join AA and get sober. With the help of her new friend and sponsor Jenny (Octavia Spencer, The Help), and the vice principal at her school, the awkward, but well intentioned, Mr. Davies, Kate takes steps toward improving her health and life. Sobriety isn’t as easy as Kate had anticipated. Her new lifestyle brings to the surface a troubling relationship with her mother, facing the lies she’s told her employer (Megan Mullaly TV’s Parks and Recreation) and calls into question whether or not her relationship with Charlie is built on love or just a boozy diversion from adulthood.

Special Features:
o Commentary With Director James Ponsoldt & Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead
o Making Smashed
o Toronto Film Festival Red Carpet And Q&A
o Deleted Scenes

“Smashed” stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, and Megan Mullaly. It was direcetd by James Ponsoldt and written by Ponsoldt & Susan Burke. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 12, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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