Critic Reviews



Based on 19 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
The Playlist
Silverman is completely riveting as she tries and flails to do right, and her physical performance is remarkable: a change in her gait or expression signals the switch in her personality from human to addict.
Silverman, digging so deep into her character that we can feel her nerve endings, is like nothing we've seen before. She's fierce and unerring. No showing off; she just is. This is acting of the highest caliber.
What propels the film forcefully along is Silverman, who pulls us down so deeply inside Laney’s sickness that everything else seems to fade away (much as it does in the character’s own life).
Village Voice
Silverman has taken serious, or at least semi-serious, roles before, but she's never had a part that demanded so much of her. She has been open about her own battles with depression, but what makes her turn here work is that it isn't nakedly expressive.
It’s 85 minutes of grim abyss-gazing with no hope of salvation. If Silverman’s going to bare her soul this nakedly, she deserves a better film to do it in.
This is a case of good acting saving a movie from its own poor choices.
Based on Amy Koppelman’s 2008 novel, I Smile Back can’t shake its slightly tired structural similarities to other drug dramas, and there’s an obvious imbalance between Silverman’s mighty commitment and the movie around her.
No one who sees I Smile Back will question if Silverman was right for the role, they will simply question whether this was a story that needed to be told in the first place.
Despite a number of trenchant scenes and some startling depictions of sexual degradation, the film has little that's particularly original or enlightening to say about living with a chemical, genetic or emotional imbalance, making its primary function as a showcase for the lead actress to stretch her range.
Silverman tackles the role with total conviction, which should come as no surprise to anyone who saw her play a similarly unhinged character in "Take This Waltz" — or, for that matter, anyone who’s seen her perform live.

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