Parvati Magazine February 2014 - Sobriety - Page 20

FILM SMASHED FILM W inner of the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize, the 2012 independent film Smashed is a comedydrama exploring what happens to the shared life of an alcoholic couple when one person decides she has hit bottom and stops drinking. Kate Hannah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is the alcoholic in question who chooses sobriety after the things that happen when she has been drinking go from embarrassing to frightening. A co-worker (Nick Offerman) reveals to her that he has been clean and sober for nine years, and invites her to attend Alcoholics Anonymous with him. Meanwhile, her husband Charlie (Aaron Paul), while still deep in addiction, has not seen his drinking lead him into the circumstances Kate has experienced, and he is not yet interested in changing his ways. Nor is Kate’s mother supportive of her choice, embittered by her ex-husband’s decision to leave her after he joined AA while she chose to continue drinking. Support for Kate comes in the form of the co-worker and her sponsor (Octavia Spencer). Neither of them varnish the truth about the challenges of going sober and having to face one’s life without being able to get drunk. The film itself, for that matter, does not hold back from showing the cringe-worthy and painful things that can happen when an addict is out of control. But it does so with wryness and gentle humor, instead of playing intense music and feeding a desire for drama as you might see on an episode of “Intervention”. There’s something quite sane and sober about this directorial choice, knowing how easy it is for addicts or those who grew up around addicts to engage with drama. I won’t give away the next steps for Kate as she deals with the ongoing fallout of her drinking and addictive behavior (such as having told lie after lie when the truth would have been easier), nor where Charlie goes in his own journey with alcoholism. But I will say that this is a film that rings true with an understanding of addiction that goes beyond the substance abuse and into the work of self-healing and humility needed for any successful recovery. If there is any complaint with this film, it is only that someone dealing with addiction may look at the bottom Kate hit and decide that since they are functioning higher than that, they don’t need to get help. Addiction and its accompanying mindsets and behaviors damage lives whether or not your use escalates to other substances or you need to drink beer in the shower in order to face your day. The best time to stop is before it starts to look scary.