Movie Review – I Smile Back
Category : Movie Review
Director: Adam Salky
Now is the time to make that dark, edgy drama with the comedienne you’ve been waiting for the right year to release. Hollywood has taken a turn toward the actress, finally writing solid roles & lines for female characters, allowing them to be the focal point, completely independent of men. And with a crop of funny and/or B-list ladies hitting the right age for mature dramatic roles, the moment is ripe. Look at Julianne Moore in Still Alice or Jennifer Aniston in Cake; not amazing actresses, not up to this point anyway, but audiences are ready for female leads with deep issues, with aged mediocrity preferable over young stardom. Who wants J-Law playing a tortured mother addicted to pain medication? No, we want Moore, Aniston, Silverman; someone approachable and not necessarily uber-talented. Well, be careful what you wish for.
Laney Brooks is one giant problem. Her abandonment issues form her lack of confidence and dependence on narcotics, while her inability to control her urges threaten to tear her (for the moment) stable life apart. Her husband Bruce knows about her issues, does what he can to help, but can’t force her to take her psych meds. And so when she falls off the wagon, sleeps with friends, does cocaine, gets hammered, unhealthily obsesses over her kids, it’s not a surprise but it’s not easy to stop. Laney takes a break, spending a late-fall month in a rehab center, trying to get a grip on the bad decisions that are slowly ruining her life. But a reunion with the father that left her when she was young will trigger all the fears she ever owned and her old methods of dealing with them. Her marriage may not survive another fall to rock bottom, and neither may she.
This is what America wants right now, serious roles from funny ladies, especially the ones who have grown up enough to be convincing as mid-life, wordly, troubled, combative, persevering. Aniston was the perfect model of that type, with just enough talent to convince us, and so made Cake work. But Silverman is now quite there. The subject matter outweighed the actress here, with credit needed for the balls this cast & crew exhibited in not holding back, especially Silverman, but not quite deserving praise for the film as a whole. Silverman just isn’t a natural actress, always coming across like she’s delivering a punchline. And although I like the guy, Josh Charles isn’t too smooth himself. The topic of addiction & depression is important, and it’s a gutsy story all around. I just wish the participants involved had been a little more polished, a touch stronger.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆