Friday, January 29, 2016

Movie Review: "I Smile Back" (2015)

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Movie"I Smile Back"
Director: Adam Salky
Year: 2015
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

A housewife and mother, Laney Brooks (Sarah Silverman), struggles with infidelity,  depression, and substance abuse.

"I Smile Back" is a character sketch about Laney Brooks, played by comedienne Sarah Silverman. Laney is a housewife and is married to an insurance salesman named Bruce, played by Josh Charles, who seems to be a loving and caring husband, though he does spend most his time talking about insurance. Laney has two kids: a daughter named Janey, played by Shayne Coleman, and a son named Eli, played by Skylar Gaertner, who seems may have some anxiety issues, and with a mother like Laney, this is rather understandable. Laney has a lot of problems mostly stemming from some deep seeded "daddy issues." She continually does bad things. She is afraid to love out of the fear that she may one day lose whatever it is she loves. Laney copes with her issues primarily through substance abuse. She pops pills, snorts cocaine, and drinks very heavily. In fact, the only drugs she doesn't take are those which are prescribed to her to help her deal with her psychological and emotional problems. She also regularly cheats on her husband, mostly with the husband of her good friend. Her lover Donny, played by Thomas Sadoski, is also her primary drug supplier. One scene after the next, Laney continues down a path self-destruction and drug abuse.

As you can tell by the above descriptions, this sure is a fun family friendly romp! "I Smile Back" is depressing, and we mean really depressing and rather hard to watch. Their isn't much hope to be found in this film. It almost feels like the screenplay served as an outlet for the writers to work through their own personal issues as a form of therapy. Sarah Silverman puts on a strong performance atypical and out of character from her typical brash, raunchy comedic nature, and we can't help but wonder if she could pull this off again some other time with a better script. This isn't Silverman's first go-around in a dramatic role, but it is certainly one of her most troubled and layered characters. Her performance earned her a Screen Actors Guild award nomination because award shows eat these types of roles right up, and her performance is without a doubt one of the most depressing, painful performances of 2015. Without Silverman's award nominated gloomy, bleak performance, there's not much else here. If we were going to watch movie with a hopeless, helpless protagonist, it probably wouldn't be "I Smile Back." Overall, this is not a fantastic movie, and when stripped of its star role, it's just not enough to distinguish itself from the many other thousands of better dramas out there already in existence. It is a little too cynical without much purpose or powerful emotion. 

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 53%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.
One year ago, we were watching: "Blackhat"

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