American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The first objective in the morning is to treat the hangover with a little judicious maintenance drinking. "Smashed" shows that it knows that in its opening minutes. Alcoholism doesn't require the kind of flamboyant craziness we see in movies like "The Hangover," but it does seem to require an introverted monitoring of whether you feel as good (or well) as you think you should.
Why do alcoholics begin down the same hazardous road day after day? They are in search of that elusive window of well-being that opens when you drink your way out of a hangover and aren't yet drunk all over again. The alcoholic's day consists of trying to keep that window open. Kate Hannah, the heroine of "Smashed," finishes yesterday's beer while she's brushing her teeth. In the parking lot at her job, she commences the new day's self-medication with a swig from a flask.
Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) teaches the third grade, and we see her doing a pretty good job of it, until she is overtaken with a sudden spasm of vomiting. One thing seasoned drinkers learn is that your "recovery drinking" involves making peace with your stomach. She tried to rush things.
What do you say after you hurl in front of a classroom of children? They think they understand: "Mrs. Hannah, are you pregnant?" Yes! Yes! That's it! Kate Hannah agrees almost thankfully. Inevitably, that leads to more problems at school, and then the assistant principal, Dave Davies (Nick Offerman), asks her to come into his office. He is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, saw her drinking in her car and can add two plus two.