“Our goal was identification, not objectification—and the humor if it speaks to the fact that it’s really fun to be drunk and it’s not wrong to say that! There’s a reason people drink and we wanted that to be a part of the spirit of the film,” admits writer/director James Ponsoldt, whose sophomore feature, Smashed, takes the typical uninviting portrait of addiction and spews it out into a unique amalgamation of dry wit and raw emotion. There’s always a genuine sense of comedy hiding in the cracks of everyday struggle, and here, we see a story that’s more about illustrating the lighter side of pain rather than a moral tale about the dangers of alcoholism and the punishment one must bare in the face of redemption.
Beckett once wrote: “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness…yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the word…yes, it’s like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don’t laugh any more.” And it’s Kate (played tremendously by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), that becomes fearful upon realizing that the nights she spends masking reality with a veil of booze and the mornings she has to drink a flask of whiskey just to go into work, are no longer fun anymore—the humor is gone and all that’s left is a feeling of defeat. But more than just a film about addiction, Smashed looks at the stamina of love when faced with change. At one point in the film Kate tells her husband Charlie (played by Aaron Paul) that “love is the easy part,” it’s the living that’s the challenge.