TIFF 15 Review: I Smile Back (2015) ★★★★★


Films about drug addicts never go wrong unless the performance delivered by the actor is so awful that you can’t handle it anymore. But thankfully, we have Sarah Silverman who knows how to manage some difficult scenes the way it will make you scream, ‘please, simply stop ruining your life’. But unfortunately, whatever you try to say to Silverman’s Laney, she won’t hear you, because she has already tuned herself into self-destruction mode and there is no way back from it, even if you try to smile back.

I Smile Back is a powerful family drama which follows Laney Brooks (Sarah Silverman) who is not a role model: she uses drugs, sleeps with any man she wants, can abandon her family any time and ruins her relationship with a caring husband, Bruce (Josh Charles). But the whole problem is, she is aware of her internal issues and her addiction to drugs, but does nothing to stop it, not at all. And how can she, if her blood is already soaked in drugs?

As the film continues, we find more gruesome details about Laney but still try to justify whatever she does is due to her problems. However, every time Bruce steps forward to help his wife overcome her problems, she does something that makes him distance himself from his wife. However, sometimes you can see Laney’s attempt to do things right and make it work this time round when she agrees to go to rehab. But nothing lasts forever for Laney because she no longer is able to control her life and allows the drug to take over her mind and continue self-destructing herself… and how can she stop doing that if she is so good at it?

The plot of I Smile Back is not the only reason you must see this film. Adam Salky does a great job as the director, making his leading cast pull out everything from the characters they portray at its maximum. There is simply no better way to portray Laney Brooks the way Silverman does. Laney is vulnerable, miserable, absolutely unlikable person, but meantime, makes you to feel sorry for her. But that is the only feeling you can feel towards the character who does not do much to fix the issues. Josh Charles is amazingly advanced and shows his acting ability as he effortlessly shifts from calmness to madness, anger to indifference whenever required. And that is what makes this film so perfect and worth seeing. And why it should not, when it already has everything that can interest you as a viewer to see a quality film.

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