ByCraig Whyel, writer at
Film & TV news, previews and commentary
Craig Whyel

Sarah Silverman, in playing the starring role of Laney in “I Smile Back,” has confronted a two-headed challenge.

One would think that the sardonic actress slash comedian, who definitely performs “outside the box” material, is used to risks.

But “I Smile Back” is a risk of a different sort.

First, Ms. Silverman plays an ultra-serious role. After spending the entirety of her career building a fan base that want to her to bring laughs, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be loyal to her genre change.

Second, finding sympathy for the character of Laney is flat out difficult.

Based on the novel by Amy Koppelman, “I Smile Back” is all about Laney, a married suburban mother of two who, on the surface, appears to live an idyllic life.

What Laney really is about includes popping pills, random sexual dalliances outside her marriage and disappearing for large amounts of time.

It is only when she faces a very real life-threatening situation that she realizes the urgency of facing the causes of her severe depression and self-destructive behavior.

“I Smile Back” also stars Josh Charles as Bruce, Laney’s very long-suffering husband.

Sarah Silverman & Josh Charles.
Sarah Silverman & Josh Charles.

The film featured at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, earlier this year, where Sarah Silverman drew considerably high praise for her work.

Many critics seemed impressed with how she abandoned her comic roots to embrace the seriousness and intensity of the role. They also seemed to think her work in the film will open doors for more dramatic roles in the future and some feel that she might get consideration in the upcoming awards season.

Digging deep.
Digging deep.

The actual film itself seems to have garnered mixed views. It is considered dreary, gut-wrenching and, for some, difficult to watch.

Distributed in North America by Broad Green Pictures, “I Smile Back” will be released on October 23rd.

Where there's help, there's hope.
Where there's help, there's hope.


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