IoS film review 2: Smashed
Love Crime
Codename: Geronimo

Alcoholism shouldn't be this much fun – even if we're left wanting more

Not many films could be improved by being 15 minutes longer, but Smashed is one of them. It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a 20-something Los Angeles primary-school teacher with a serious drinking problem. How serious? Well, she vomits on the floor in front of a class of five-year-olds, and that's by no means the most embarrassing of her boozy faux pas. Soon, even she realises that enough is enough. The school's deputy head, Nick Offerman, invites her along to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but her hedonistic husband, Aaron Paul, fears that their marriage will grind to a halt without some scotch and tequila to grease the wheels.

James Ponsoldt's lively indie drama pulls off the trick of showing just how destructive Winstead's binges can be, while acknowledging how fun they can be, too. The bright-eyed, loose-limbed Winstead is having such a good time that we can understand why she keeps getting stupidly drunk. And, in general, she faces both her alcoholism and her sobriety with a minimum of Oscar-baiting self-pity. There's one big, shouty argument, but otherwise Smashed refuses to wallow in the misery of hitting rock bottom.

As welcome as its droll frankness may be, though, the film goes too far in its swerve away from melodrama. We see Winstead drinking, then we see her not drinking, but we're only just getting to the pressures brought on by this transition when Smashed suddenly jumps to its finale. Ponsoldt has chickened out of writing the most testing and traumatic part of his heroine's story – hence my desire for that extra 15 minutes. Rarely have I been more frustrated by a "One Year Later" cut.

Smashed might have swapped running times with Love Crime, a French thriller that would have been far better shorter. It features Ludivine Sagnier as an eager young executive and Kristin Scott Thomas as her smooth, conniving boss. Sagnier is so spellbound by her mentor that she doesn't mind when Scott Thomas nabs all the credit for her deal-clinching ideas. But when the older woman humiliates the younger one at a party, Sagnier plots her revenge.

So ... Sagnier and Scott Thomas; sex and murder; swanky Parisian boardrooms and bedrooms. Sounds enticing, doesn't it? But, sadly, the chic 1980s erotic thriller currently playing in your head is a lot more enjoyable than the late Alain Corneau's version. Released in France two years ago, Love Crime should have been seductively stylish, and yet it looks like a training video shot by contestants on The Apprentice. Agatha Christie might have knocked out the plot on an off-day, and its high-finance milieu is depicted so fuzzily that it recalls the "perfect murder" films Woody Allen made in London. Yes, it's that bad.

It could be worse, though. Codename: Geronimo is an action movie about the Navy Seals' raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. The curious thing is that it was produced by one of the producers of The Hurt Locker, and yet that film's director and writer, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, have also made their own thriller on the same subject, Zero Dark Thirty. Still, if audiences are in danger of confusing the two projects before they've seen them, I very much doubt that they'll be confused afterwards. Codename: Geronimo is a snoozy TV movie, with a drastic shortage of brains and budget. The CIA is represented by three people in a nondescript office, and one of them is Finch from American Pie.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on