NOT FUNNY: I Smile Back – film review

by

I SMILE BACK    

director: Adam Salky    

opens December 11    

The Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street, Ottawa    

Hoping for a rib-tickling hijinx escapade with razor sharp witticisms from Sarah Silverman? Not happening.

Instead, “I Smile Back” slaps audience faces awake with a desperate housemom coke binge scene. Its realism is disconcerting, and quite shocking. Laney is living the dream: suburban home, steady income hubbie, a couple of cute replicants; what could go wrong? Laney goes wrong. Addictively wrong. Drugs and extramarital sex seem appropriate escape mechanisms from dullsville, but in Laney’s case, there is something deeper and darker within, that fuels her self-destructive behaviour. She’s smart enough to sneak her vices, for a while, but depression wins out in the end.

Struggling with demons is especially hard when searching for reason where reason may not exist. People wanna help. Laney wants help. But they don’t know how, and besides, life keeps interrupting. “I Smile Back” is an exercise in frustration, much like life itself. Silverman delivers an astounding performance, which covers various personalities (druggie, charming gal, selfless mom, slut, victim, drunk, bitch) with equal aplomb.

It’s a tough transition from comedic icon to dramatic actor. Robin Williams almost made it. Steve Carell is there. And now, Sarah Silverman.

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