Smashed (R)

Film

Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Smashed

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

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Time Out says

Tue Oct 9 2012

Allow this critic a small moment of naches: Ever since I saw Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s wild-card turn in 2005’s Sky High, the cherub-cheeked actor has impressed me with chops worthier than her agent. (Steely and tear-rimmed in Final Destination 3, she was a new Jamie Lee Curtis in our midst.) Finally, Winstead has been allowed a meatier role to convince the rest: Her Kate, an alcoholic grade-school teacher, is the tremulous heart of this well-intentioned L.A. addiction drama. Winstead runs with it and is never less than excellent, wobbly on her hipster bike and grandly unhinged during the bad times, hanging on by a thread in the latter half of the movie. Her performance could have easily tipped into sloppiness; the self-control, never glib or ironic, is astounding.

To be sure, the film as a whole feels like a creaky vehicle, belabored with plot strands and stereotypes that only serve to highlight Winstead’s ragged commitment to something real. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer shows up as a saintly AA sponsor preaching the gospel of comfort food—no tummy ache ever arrives for her. Elsewhere, scenes with Kate’s equally soused husband, Charlie (Aaron Paul), telegraph a yawning divide that smacks of screenwriterly contentment. But Smashed may have already served its purpose: Every time we’re supposed to fawn over the latest indie It girl, we run the risk of forgetting the talented players who need only a little nurturing to bloom.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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Release details

Rated:

R

US release:

Fri Oct 12, 2012

Duration:

81 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

James Ponsoldt

Cast:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman

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