Okay, maybe it’s not quite in the Christmas spirit in the traditional sense, but one of the most charming, frightening and heart-rending indie films to come out this year gets its release this week in the UK. Smashed is the second film from writer/director James Ponsoldt (who shares writing credits here with Susan Burke) and stars two of my favourite young actors at the moment, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul.
They are your stereotypical young couple in love. Married and straight out of university, Kate and Charlie live in Los Angeles. He’s a music journalist and she teaches primary school. Like any twenty-something couple, they drink. We know what it’s like. A lot of the time, it’s a fun and sociable reason to hang around together. Only in their case, their drinking spirals helplessly out of control and the two are stuck in this ménage-a-trois with the bottle as the unwelcome guest. Before they know it, their lives are crashing down around them.
American self-help movies are generally littered with clichés, except Smashed isn’t really a self-help movie. Smashed is a slice-of-life drama, and one with more than just a hint of social realism about it – something that is severely lacking in the contemporary American independent film. Winstead (best known for her roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Death Proof) and Paul (Breaking Bad and Big Love) are just as believable and utterly adorable. A surprising eye-opener, and well worth catching if you’re in town this weekend.
Smashed opens this weekend.