Wednesday, 27 February 2013

REVIEW - SMASHED


Another entry in the file marked 'indie addiction dramas'. You might glean one or two semi-original, insightful observations from Smashed, but it is, otherwise, built solely upon offering Mary Elizabeth Winstead the kind of role she deserves. The joy of watching her elevate her material is somewhat lost, though, when her character is finally worthy of her standards, as Kate is. Still, she remains a compelling screen presence, with a good line in sapient understatement, and she devours her big Oscar scene whilst not losing sight of the character she's built. Much everything else in Smashed fades in comparison. James Ponsoldt nicely balances the dark subject matter with a light tone, and doesn't wrap his story up as neatly as you'd expect, given the flat simplicity with which he constructs some key themes and events earlier in the film. His levity can prove brash and distracting, though, and what he gives us in his aptitude with actors and with dialogue, he takes away with the derivative situations in which he sets them. He's not excessively ambitious - eventually, something of a relief, as the more low-key Ponsoldt keeps Smashed, the more successful it tends to be, and the more he allows Winstead to shine. There's little to be said for not having a unique voice in a cluttered independent film landscape, but there's surely something to be said for knowing not to end up trying too hard. All the same, he could try harder!