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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Movie Review - I Smile Back

I Smile Back (2015)
Starring Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Skylar Gaertner, Shayne Coleman, and Thomas Sadoski
Directed by Adam Salky
***This film is currently available on Amazon Prime***

Very rarely will you ever see me write that I wish a film would've been longer, but that's the case with I Smile Back, a captivating look the addictions (drug, alcohol, sexual) facing a suburban mother who desperately wants to get better, but struggles to succeed.  Comedian Sarah Silverman takes on a hefty dramatic role as Laney Brooks, a married mom of two whose typical day may include dropping her kids off at school and then driving the minivan to a hotel room for a tryst with her lover who also happens to supply with her with cocaine and prescription meds.  Sounds like a blast, huh?

In the first screenplay by writer Paige Dylan, we get a nicely rounded character in Laney as both the director Adam Salky and actress Silverman herself add depth to the well-written role.  When the film focuses on Laney, it's entirely successful.  Unfortunately, as we branch out to other characters -- particularly when Laney spends time with her children -- some of the dialog feels trite and some of the scenes seem ill-conceived and never really pay off with any dramatic emphasis.  While I understand the importance of showing Laney's downward spiral and how it affects her relationship with her kids, I never found myself latching on to this aspect of the story in a meaningful way and quite frankly, considering the subject matter of a mother going off the deep end, I should've.

However, overall, this is an indie movie that proves to be an unflinching look at addiction.  As mentioned, although I wanted the film to go on (which is certainly a credit to the screenwriter, director, and lead actress), the film ends on a note that causes the viewer to really ponder Laney's past and future journeys.  Silverman (nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild award for Best Actress) is captivating and engaging, showcasing that she definitely has the dramatic chops to tackle a role like this.  Here's hoping we see more of this in her future.  As for the film itself, it's well worth 85 minutes of your time and while it may have a few problems, its positives undoubtedly outweigh its negatives.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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