After fighting off mutant aliens in last year's remake to The Thing and vintage bloodsuckers in this year's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, it's about time we see Mary Elizabeth Winstead battle real life demons in a Sundance drama some critics are already calling her best performance to date.
Smashed follows Kate (Winstead), a young woman who's decided to put her alcoholic binges behind her to focus on a sober life with her equally booze-loving husband Charlie (Aaron Paul). Cutting out out the bottle cold turkey proves to be a tough task for both her and her married. Here's a full 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.
The movie, which took home the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing by Andrea Sperling and Jonathan Schwartz, also stars Octavia Spencer (in her first film role since her Oscar-winning turn in The Help) and Megan Mullaly. It's directed and co-written by James Ponsoldt, in his first full feature film.
I always thought Mullaly could do drama and not just the hilarious Karen on TV's Will & Grace, so it's exciting to see her a part of this. And it will be interesting to see what Spencer brings to this role, as I believe Hollywood has yet to see the best from her. Same goes for Paul, who stays putting in impressive work on TV's Breaking Bad but has yet to really grab the attention of a film audience.
The movie promotions seem to be going hard on Winstead's performance, who've I've never been impressed with in the past, but I'm looking forward to seeing her work--as well as that of the entire cast in this film. Smashed is slated to hit theaters October 12.