Smashed (2012)

Rated R. Our ratings: V -1; L -3; S/N -. Running time: 1 hour 21 min.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger late over wine,
those who keep trying mixed wines.
Proverbs 23: 29-30

Kate and Charlie at breakfast after a night of drinking with their friends

2012 Sony Pictures Classics

A film worthy to be set alongside Days of Wine and Roses and The Lost Weekend, this is a non-sentimental, honest depiction of alcoholism. The married Kate and Charlie (Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Aaron Paul) are in love with each other and with alcohol, as are all of their friends. A teacher, she reaches a crisis when she throws up in front of her class of first graders. Accepting one child’s suggestion that she might be pregnant like her mom, Kate lies.

However the assistant principal Dave Davies (Nick Offerman) knows better, revealing that he is a member of AA. She at last agrees to attend a meeting with him, seeming to be heading for better days after she acquires an understanding sponsor Jenny (Octavia L. Spencer), But what about her husband, still drinking, and the belief at school that she is pregnant? A powerful drama that recognizes that alcohol does bring a measure of fun and laughter, but that the price is extremely high—and that regardless of what the addict does, there will be consequences that cannot be avoided. Director James Ponsoldt and his co-writer Susan Burk have provided their excellent cast that presents without melodrama a realistic story that you will long remember. Indeed, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s erformance is every bit as good as any of the five other actresses that were nominated for a Best Actress Oscar this year.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. Compare Kate and Charlie. Which is more realistic about their drinking? Have you known someone like either of them?

2. How do we see Kate’s lie snow ball, eventually leading to disaster?

3. How does A.A. make its members to be honest and face reality?

4. Compare Dave and Jenny. How do we see that David has an ulterior motive for taking Kate to A.A.?

5. Kate’s mother also drinks excessively: does she seem to have any self-awareness about her situation. How is she like Charlie?

6. What do you think lies ahead for Kate and Charlie? Another good film to watch in conjunction with this one, Days of Wine and Roses.