Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


I Smile Back

I Smile Back
Starring:
Sarah Silverman and Josh Charles


Rated: R for strong sexual content, substance abuse/disturbing behavior, and language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: October 23, 2015 Released by: Broad Green Pictures

Another indie film set in the Garden State suburbs that has an ending like High Art (a forgotten 1998 Ally Sheedy picture) has a stringently surprising performance from its lead. Unfortunately, one which really overshadows its content. Which wasn't the case with Debra Granik's Down To The Bone which allowed Vera Farmiga to excel amid the squalor of despair.

I Smile Back ironically deals with the despair of Sarah Silverman's Laney, an upper middle-class mother and wife with a seemingly happy existence (with a swank residence) until self-destruction and compulsion rears its ugly head. A supportive insurance-salesman husband who isn't much of a twit (a fine Josh Charles) begins to realize that his doting wife is losing control. Helmer Adam Salky may not be that bold in his cinematic selections, but lets the normally naughty comedic deadpan Silverman (Take This Waltz, School of Rock, Wreck-It Ralph) etch a varied, unstudied dramatic portrait along a dark path that includes a stint in rehab and an important figure from her past.

Tyro scenarists Paige Dylan and Amy Koppleman (based on her 2008 tome) may not provide enough exposition into how Laney has become the way she has - with needs to be with a neighbor (Thomas Sadoski), a teddy bear and cocaine that she must vacuum up. Observing the unpleasantness of Laney (in contrast to the usual sweet demeanor of Silverman in many of her roles and on-stage act) may be too much for the discerning looking for a little more nuance. But, the underpinnings relative to indignation, inflammation and anguish are evident before the double-edged wrap-up when it really might be time to let go of Laney.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Dayra Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
I Smile Back        C+                     C+ 

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