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An image from "Smashed"

4 out of 4 stars

Directed by
James Ponsoldt
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul

As a primary-school teacher who begins to think maybe her life has become, um, "unmanageable" when she pukes up a hangover in front of her stunned class, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is boldly and heartbreakingly convincing. It's not just the hell-and-back trajectory of the well-trod recovery-movie trail that she rides so impressively, but the nuance she brings to a character who might otherwise seem a rote cliché. Married to a chronically adolescent, party-prone rock critic (Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul) – who loves her madly but just doesn't get it – and gingerly navigating those slippery Twelve Steps, Winstead's Kate is a richly observed and detailed character, and the centre of one of the best getting-straight dramas in years.

Sept. 12, 6 p.m., Ryerson; Sept. 13, 5 p.m., Cineplex Yonge & Dundas.

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