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Film Review: I Smile Back Starring Sarah Silverman

I Smile Back, directed by Adam Selky was originally released earlier this year in January at the Sundance Film Festival but just recently made its quaint release in the United States. Based on the novel with the same title by Amy Koppelman, the story follows the main female character, Laney as she struggles to cope with her anxiety and depression. Although her life appears to be “picture perfect” with two beautiful children and a loving husband, everything she loves slowly crumbles due to her instability, wild behavior, and unsettled childhood abandonment.

Sarah Silverman brings audiences with her on a roller coaster in I Smile Back, but this time it is not her usual comedic self that spurs the bumps; she flawlessly portrays Laney and it is a character that she has never braved before in her career. Silverman challenged herself in this role by going to a place that would reenact agonizing pain and humiliation in order to illustrate the bone chilling depths of mental illness.

In the beginning of the film, the scene opens with Laney sitting in her bathroom, completely naked, snorting three lines of cocaine. Drug addiction provides temporary sources of release, but clearly does not solve anything as her cravings worsen. Her husband Bruce, played by actor Josh Charles, ironically tells Laney he loves her but does not have the patience or desire to listen when she wants to communicate her deepest fears and problems. Throughout the film, Laney is alone with her illness and left without much help from her family.

From time to time there are tender moments of dark humor which provide some comic relief, but any moments of happiness are fleeting—which makes audiences realize just how much courage and strength is required for someone suffering from mental illness to continue living. I Smile Back highlights the fact that depression and anxiety are illnesses that can affect and destroy anyone’s life. This film illustrates the extremes that a person may go through as a desperation to become normal.

Although the film was released October 23rd 2015, there is still time to see this incredible, and moving film on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon and video on demand.

I Smile Back – Trailer:

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