Paul has a proven track record in portraying substance abuse from his Emmy-winning role on “Breaking Bad,” but Winstead bears most of the burden in making these people feel real. When on the wagon, Winstead's Kate is a model of clarity who is visibly horrified by who she is in her drinking life. The actress takes on this polarity as if she is playing two radically different people with the same name, but as Kate comes to understand, alcohol truly has that effect on her.
Writer-director James Ponsoldt and co-writer Susan Burke put Kate and Charlie through the paces of a gender-flipped version of “Days of Wine and Roses,” creating a stark and often cringe-worthy look at the toll of acute alcoholism. “Smashed” is not saying anything new about booze and its hold on addicts, but Winstead and Paul make viewers feel the impact as their characters hit bottom.
— George Lang
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Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally.
(Alcohol abuse, language, some sexual content and brief drug use)