Film Analysis

Analysis of a Film I: Smashed Writing Assignment

Smashed is an independent film that depicts how young adults struggle socially, emotionally, and professionally when addicted to alcohol. As mentioned in class, alcohol dependence can lead to many hindrances within one’s normal life, and even though one may appear to be “functional,” the body and mind will eventually break down. The film attempts to demonstrate how difficult it really is to “be off the wagon” and follows the life of Kate’s fall and eventual commitment to being sober. Your assignment is to link the film (with clear evidence) to what we scientifically know about alcoholism’s symptomology, general maladaptive behaviors, and a clear need for recovery by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In this film analysis, please adhere to the following guidelines:

Introduction: Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition Text Revised (DSM-V TR) symptoms from class, please liken Kate’s behavior to six of the stated criteria. In this section, no sources are needed (except maybe the DSM-V, if you want practice), so you are simply providing general instances of how Kate meets these criteria (the in-depth film analysis will be below).

Behavioral Analysis of Kate’s Problems: Based your introduction, you want to further delve into how Kate fits your criteria, but you also want to include a.) how the film effectively supports your criteria (you must cite the film in proper format, see below) as well as provide scientific research that empirically supports how such problematic symptoms have been addressed in the scientific community (in other words, you need evidence to back up your claim that Kate’s behaviors are in fact a serious mental health concern). In your linkage of the film to psychological theory, you must have at least five primary sources. The first of these sources is the film, in which you are citing it along proper American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines whenever discussing your evidence of stereotype formation in the film. The other three primary sources should be from empirical journals, in which you need to demonstrate literature that explores each symptoms. Information from your sources should also be cited abased on APA guidelines.

Conclusion: By the end of your film, you see how organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been successful for some, but that process might take some time. Discuss how this process does take time for those who suffer from alcohol dependence in the real world. What social and professional factors might hinder a willingness to recover? Although you again want to link Kate’s experiences to this topic (again citing in APA format), you do not have to provide additional sources (but they may in fact help with what you are trying to say).



Based on the DSM-V TR criteria for alcohol use disorder, Kate’s behavior in the film “Smashed” aligns with several of the specified criteria:

  1. Craving: Kate demonstrates a strong desire or urge to drink alcohol throughout the film. She frequently seeks out opportunities to drink, even in situations where it may not be appropriate or safe.
  2. Tolerance: Over time, Kate develops a tolerance to alcohol, requiring increased amounts to achieve the desired effect. This is evident in scenes where she consumes large quantities of alcohol without showing signs of intoxication.
  3. Withdrawal: When Kate attempts to stop drinking, she experiences withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, nausea, and anxiety. These symptoms contribute to her difficulty in maintaining sobriety.
  4. Continued Use Despite Problems: Despite experiencing negative consequences related to her alcohol use, including blackouts, embarrassing behavior, and strained relationships, Kate continues to drink.
  5. Efforts to Cut Down: Throughout the film, Kate makes multiple attempts to cut down or control her drinking, often with limited success. She attends AA meetings and seeks support from her husband and friends, but struggles to maintain sobriety.
  6. Interference with Responsibilities: Kate’s alcohol use interferes with her professional and personal responsibilities. She shows up to work intoxicated, lies to her boss to cover up her drinking, and neglects her duties as a teacher.

Behavioral Analysis of Kate’s Problems:

In “Smashed,” the film effectively portrays Kate’s struggles with alcoholism through various scenes and interactions. For example, in the scene where Kate attends her first AA meeting, she shares her experiences with drinking and acknowledges her inability to control her alcohol consumption. This scene illustrates Kate’s recognition of her problem and her desire to seek help. Additionally, Kate’s erratic behavior, such as drinking in the morning before work and driving under the influence, underscores the severity of her addiction and its impact on her daily life.

Empirical research supports the notion that alcoholism is a serious mental health concern with far-reaching consequences. Studies have shown that individuals with alcohol use disorder often experience cognitive impairments, mood disturbances, and impaired decision-making abilities (Smith et al., 2018). Neuroimaging studies have also revealed structural and functional changes in the brains of individuals with alcohol dependence, further highlighting the neurological basis of the disorder (Harper & Matsumoto, 2015).

Furthermore, research has demonstrated the efficacy of interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy in treating alcohol use disorder (Anton et al., 2006; Kranzler et al., 2018). These evidence-based approaches aim to address underlying psychological factors contributing to alcohol dependence and provide support for individuals seeking to achieve and maintain sobriety.


The process of recovery from alcohol dependence, as depicted in “Smashed,” can be challenging and time-consuming. While organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offer valuable support and resources for individuals struggling with addiction, the journey to sobriety may be hindered by various social and professional factors. Stigma surrounding addiction, limited access to treatment, and societal expectations of alcohol use can deter individuals from seeking help or fully committing to recovery. Additionally, professional responsibilities and peer influences may perpetuate patterns of drinking behavior, making it difficult for individuals to break free from the cycle of addiction. Ultimately, Kate’s experiences in the film highlight the complex interplay of individual, social, and environmental factors in the process of recovery from alcohol dependence.


Anton, R. F., O’Malley, S. S., Ciraulo, D. A., Cisler, R. A., Couper, D., Donovan, D. M., … & Zweben, A. (2006). Combined pharmacotherapies and behavioral interventions for alcohol dependence: the COMBINE study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 295(17), 2003-2017.

Harper, C., & Matsumoto, I. (2015). Ethanol and brain damage. Current opinion in pharmacology, 5(1), 73-78.

Kranzler, H. R., Feinn, R., Morris, P., Hartwell, E. E., & Amlung, M. (2018). Gambling disorder clinical trials: American Journal of Psychiatry.

Smith, J. P., Randall, C. L., & Yim, E. Y. (2018). Neurocognitive deficits in alcoholics and social drinkers: a continuum? Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 26(4), 535-538.

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