In the sea of star-studded Hollywood films and high-profile foreign fare at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, it's the small movies that, despite good buzz, often seem to fall through the cracks — films like James Ponsoldt's "Smashed."
Starring "Scott Pilgrim's" Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the addiction dramedy follows Kate, a functioning alcoholic whose attempts to change her hard-partying ways are marred by her inebriate husband's unwillingness to give up the drink. The film co-stars "Breaking Bad's" Aaron Paul as Winstead's carousing life partner in crime, as well as real-life funny couple Nick "Ron Swanson" Offerman and Megan Mullally.
"Smashed" arrives at TIFF 2012 with rave reviews already under its belt; the film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, earning solid marks from a number of top critics. Both Variety and Entertainment Weekly praised "Smashed," calling it an "affecting" look at addiction and recovery, while the Hollywood Reporter singled out Winstead's performance as "terrific." In advance of Toronto, Yahoo!'s own Thelma Adams predicted that the actress's memorable turn as the "adorable alcoholic" would be one of the breakout performances of the festival.
With similarly positive early reviews for "Smashed" coming out of TIFF over the past week, it appears that the acclaim for Winstead is well founded. The Globe & Mail gave the movie a four-star review and calling it "one of the best getting-straight dramas in years," and Toronto's The Grid and Exclaim! gave the movie equally glowing recommendations, with the latter commending Winstead's performance as "an absolute revelation."
"Smashed" is set to have its premiere at Toronto's Ryerson Theatre on Sept. 12 with Winstead and Paul expected to be in attendance. Both actors have been hanging out in Toronto for the past few days, doing the press rounds and enjoying the festival's legendary night life. The popularity of Paul's AMC series "Breaking Bad" is sure to help the film's profile at the fest, and Winstead, who earned unofficial Torontonian status with her star turn as Michael Cera's object of affection in "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," is bound to be warmly welcomed by the Canadian crowd.
Many are already speculating that "Smashed" could lead to an Oscar nomination for Winstead, so exactly how the film is received by the festival public tonight will be very important for the 27-year-old actress. Ramona Flowers for Best Actress? It could happen.
"Smashed" is set for a limited North American release on Oct. 12.