Kate AND Charlie are a couple who drink together. A lot. And, for the most part, they have a pretty good time doing it, barring the sledge-hammer hangovers and wet mattresses. Except, in Kate’s words, things start to go from embarrassing to scary, not least when she goes to her job in a primary school so drunk she vomits in front of the kids.
Films about addiction can have a tendency to preach – to paint a black and white picture where alcohol, or drugs, are bad and being sober isn’t. But Smashed isn’t a polemic – parts are a paean to Kate's drinking days: “They say that your worst day sober is better than your best day drunk. That’s not true – I had some amazing times drinking”. And while Kate’s path through AA is part of the story, her changing relationship with her husband is equally prominent – as she tries to give up drink, she’s faced with abandoning her social life, and maybe her marriage, too. This portrayal of alcohol as both a facilitator of good times and bad, of love as well as hate, makes Smashed stand out in a crowded field of addiction dramas.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead puts in a fine performance as Kate, flitting deftly between anguish and euphoria and Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad’s meth addicted anti-hero – also shines as the selfish but likeable husband.
There are no good guys or bad guys, and, while it is often difficult to watch, the pay-off is a rewarding and, at times, very moving film.