Monday, June 26, 2017

Now on Amazon Prime: I Smile Back (2015)

I Smile Back (2015) - Directed by Adam Salky; Written by Paige Dylan, Amy Koppelman; Starring Sarah Silverman, Skylar Gaertner, Shayne Coleman, Josh Charles.

By Kenny Howell

Sarah Silverman acts her heart out in this drama about a woman suffering from severe depression.

Given the subject matter, it goes without saying that I Smile Back is a bit hard to watch. Especially because Director Adam Salky is willing to show depression for what it really is, a battle of ups and downs, but mostly downs, and a hell that is hard to escape.

Silverman (Crashing) plays Laney, a woman whose condition leads her to make reckless decisions, whether it be doing drugs, having an affair with her friend's husband, or just basically abandoning her family when they need her most.


I Smile Back follows her cycle of trying to work through the things that got her to that point, but it is not therapeutic in any sense. She has her small victories, but the film is mostly the down, and that does make it hard to watch at some points.

The draw and savior of the film is Silverman herself who gets a chance to show that she is something more than just an excellent comedian. She has got to do small dramatic roles in the past, but I Smile Back is completely her show. She is on screen nearly the entire movie, and without her performance this could have been a long slog. But the depth she brings to her character, a woman battling her compulsions, even if it seems a losing battle is truly a revelation. There is a glimmer of hope in Laney somewhere. It's just almost impossible to find, and Silverman's ability to keep that just below the surface is quite a feat.

I Smile Back is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: ***

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