Smashed

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Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes a fine alcoholic. In Smashed, her character, Kate, talks too loud. She wavers too much. To her husband, Charlie (Aaron Paul), she’s his “drunk, drunk, drunk angel.” To a roomful of bar patrons, she’s an enthusiastic, loose-limbed, off-key karaoke queen. And to the homeless crack smoker to whom she gives an inebriated ride, she’s “a hardcore drinking bitch like me!” Kate ends up smoking crack that night and sleeping it off under a bridge. The next day, she decides she’s had enough. The problem with Smashed is that Kate seems to get sober just as quickly; if Winstead’s performance is short of the Oscar-winning brilliance of Nicolas Cage’s Leaving Las Vegas drunk, blame the writing. Co-scripted by director James Ponsoldt and Susan Burke, Smashed is compelling but ultimately superficial. Arguably, it’s really about the trials an alcoholic faces in her post-drinking life. But damn, getting off the sauce is a trial, too, and one Ponsoldt should have at least given us a glimpse of. Just like the character in her partying days, we don’t ever quite get enough. (TO)
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