Smashed opens October 26th exclusively at Harkins Camelview. The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, and Nick Offerman premiered at Sundance in January and is making it's way to theatres. Prior to the film's release, director James Ponsoldt put together his thoughts on the film and here they are....
"Smashed" Director's Statement from James Ponsoldt
SMASHED began as a conversation between my co-writer, Susan Burke, and me. In addition to being a very funny person and talented writer, Susan is the owner of some of the most simultaneously upsetting and hilarious stories I've ever heard about dumb things she did while she was drunk.
It’s no coincidence that Susan is now sober. Like a lot of the people closest to me who've had issues with substance abuse, Susan also knows a secret: Being drunk can be really fun. It’s just all the other things that come with being drunk that can be a downer (wrecking cars, lives, etc.).
But SMASHED isn’t primarily about alcohol or alcoholics. SMASHED is a film about fidelity – and what it means to be committed to someone, to love someone, and to need to change your life…when your partner isn’t capable of change.
So many films that deal with substance abuse follow a familiar “scared straight” path, depicting characters so damaged that they’re not relatable, leaving the audience with nothing to do but gawk at their otherness.
SMASHED is a love story – between the main characters, Kate and Charlie, but also hopefully between the audience and the characters. I certainly adore Kate and Charlie. They’re flawed and misguided, and maybe they only work as a couple when they’re falling-down drunk, but I was committed to making a film in which the alcoholics appear light-hearted and are fun to hang out 4 with (perhaps your personal perspective on whether they make a good couple will depend upon your own history of relationships with addicts).
SMASHED also is a coming of age story for Kate – except she’s closer to 30 than 20, so I suppose it’s an adult coming of age story. But for a lot of my friends, adulthood seems to be more and more distant (Have kids? Eh…maybe at 40. Regular job? Eh…maybe after I have kids.).
I’m not sure if people can really, fundamentally change (and I guess that’s more a conversation for stoned college students), but I do know that films about people with problems attempting to change their lives – even if they’re unsuccessful or perhaps delusional – are some of my favorite stories. I love watching people try and fail. And try again. And fail worse. There’s something special and heroic and so, so human about seeing someone attempt to conquer her demons and fix her life (even if she isn't necessarily imbued with the wisdom or common sense to have any clue how her life should be fixed).
In SMASHED, the demons happen to be alcohol, but really that’s just part of the characters’ circumstance, like their age or where they live (late-20’s and Highland Park, in northeast Los Angeles). Part of becoming an adult means learning to stop blaming your personal history, or genetic make-up, or your partner for your problems. To be able to look at yourself in the mirror and – without a single pill or drop of alcohol – be able to say: “I love myself,” or “I like myself,” or at least, “I don’t want to kill myself,” seems like a pretty decent first step before entering an adult relationship.
SMASHED is a story about a young woman taking that first step, stumbling a bit – and seeing if her husband can join her on the journey.