To make matters worse, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a schoolteacher living a hazy existence with fellow alcoholic husband Charlie (Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul) in a modest and appropriately under-lit home. When she shows up to work one day battling a hangover with swigs from a flask, the recipe leads to vomiting in a trashcan in front of her class and reluctantly agreeing with a young student's incorrect diagnosis that she is pregnant.
After finally bottoming out, she is taken under the wing of recovering addict vice-principal Dave (Nick Offerman), who invites her to an AA meeting, where she meets her new sponsor, Jenny (Octavia Spencer). Beginning to put her life back together again, the weight of being married to a man who, while providing a supportive façade, has no intention of getting clean himself proves to be a perpetual struggle.
Winstead is an absolute revelation here, displaying the full potential of what has only thus far been glimpsed in less substantial roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and last year's starring turn in the remake of The Thing. She projects a vulnerability and wounded pride beneath her tough veneer that are captivating and uncomfortably honest.
The supporting cast has been expertly assembled, including a juicy role for Parks & Recreation's Offerman, as a decent man with deeper, unreciprocated feelings for Kate and an absolutely terrible way with words. Paul continues his rise to prominence in a tricky role, while Spencer does wonders with a small morsel of screen time. Megan Mulally, Offerman's real-life wife, also gets ample opportunity to shine in a few key scenes as the school's principal.
The film was co-written and directed by James Ponsoldt, who has experience telling stories about alcoholics after 2006's Off The Black, and he possesses a knack for seasoning the serious business of getting sober with appreciated dashes of humour and heart.
With another film starring Winstead already in the works, it's safe to say that this has all the makings of a beautiful partnership. (Sony)
ReviewsDec 11, 2014
Top FiveChris Rock
It's no secret that while Chris Rock has established himself as one the world's funniest stand-up comedians, he's also struggled to translat...
ReviewsDec 08, 2014
The Jeffersons: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
George and Weezy finally get their own deee-luxe DVD box set that was long overdue. Shout Factory's The Jeffersons box set collects all 253 ...
ReviewsDec 05, 2014
The strength of Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée's award-winning film the Dallas Buyers Club was ultimately its universal depiction of a g...
ReviewsDec 05, 2014
The ScarehouseGavin Michael Booth
For those that like their horror films especially grisly and prefer their humour to be of the pitch-black variety, step inside The Scarehous...