Comedian Sarah Silverman shows her dramatic side in I Smile Back, a dark suburban drama about addiction and mental illness. Silverman’s character, Laney, is living a seemingly perfect life as a housewife and mother of two. But beneath the surface, she’s addicted to drugs, booze, and sex: an early scene shows her sleeping with her husband’s friend, doing coke, and then going to pick her kids up from school. After a binge leads to a collapse, she reluctantly goes to rehab. There, she finally begins to deal with her relationship with her father, who’s been absent from her life since childhood.
I Smile Back
Starring Sarah Silverman
Directed by Adam Salky
I Smile Back gives viewers a multifaceted look at addiction (a good portion of the film depicts Laney’s struggle to function in the real world after rehab). But some may have trouble getting past the film’s Stepford Wives worldview: despite taking place in the modern day, all the men are wealthy businessmen, all the women are stay-at-home wives and mothers, and nobody seems to realize that there are other ways to live. The film would have felt more realistic if it had been set 40 or 50 years ago. While Silverman’s performance is excellent and I’d love to see her in more dramas, she couldn’t save what is in many ways an inauthentic script.
By Erika W. Smith