UKJFF: I Smile Back

Directed by Adam Salky
Starring Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles and Thomas Sadoski

by Joanna Orland

Fans of Sarah Silverman may be surprised to see the usually hilarious comedian taking a dark dramatic turn in I Smile Back.  As wife and mother of two, Laney (Silverman) has a superficially picture-perfect life while underneath the front she is putting on, she struggles relentlessly against her inner demons of mental torment, alcoholism and drug addiction.

There is nothing funny about I Smile Back and casting a comedian in the lead role is a bold move by director Adam Salky.  Luckily for him, Sarah Silverman proves that she’s up to the challenge as she delivers a harrowing and visceral performance as Laney who is spiraling out of control.  Josh Charles also gives an excellent supportive performance as her husband, but it is truly Silverman’s turn that makes this film as powerful as it is.

The story itself isn’t as strong as Silverman, with some shallow scenes trying to have more emotional resonance than they warrant.  Silverman carries the film through, drawing the audience in with her dramatic skill in this revelatory achievement.

While I’m a huge fan of Sarah Silverman the comedian, I can’t help but hope for more serious roles in her future.


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