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Thoth’s I Smile Back Movie Review

Reviews Thoth

Thoth’s I Smile Back Movie Review


I Thoth, thought…

(Explaining a movie’s plot while review it is a drag – especially when there’s IMDB and trailers to watch for that)

… So why not invent my own versions of movie plots?  – Which, I’m thinking, won’t be just simple-ass plots, but proper introductions to the movie, providing proper context…

Here’s Introducing! –

The Thoth Plot for I Smile Back:  

Kindness –

Laney Brooks is the only one at a crowded restaurant that notices this kid, at one of the tables with his mother & father, struggling to eat with regular chopsticks. She approaches the kid and gives him her easy-to-use chopsticks, which the kid and the family thank her for gratefully. She responds saying “I still use these”. The parents go back to texting on their phones; the kid effortlessly uses his new chopsticks and smiles at her as she turns before leaving. She Smiles Back.

Charity –

When Laney’s husband Bruce Brooks first saw her, they were kids and she stole a candy-bar from a store on the sly. She notices Bruce spotting her, and She Smiles Back. And then she gives the candy bar to a homeless guy in the alley.


Every morning, while packing snack-boxes for her school-going son and daughter, Laney takes the time to do little doodles along with their names, in crayons, on the paper bags. The boy gets space-designs like rockets, planets and stars and the girl earth-designs like flowers, hearts and a house.

Love –

One night Laney goes to check on her kids sleeping at night, and finds her son waking from a nightmare. He dreams of her walking blindly into a speeding car on the street, where he tried saving her, but she couldn’t hear him because she was listening to her headphones. She hugs him comfortingly and tells him – “that’s never going to happen, because I would never let it happen” – and then she stays with him till he falls asleep.

  • I Smile Back is a movie about Laney Brooks, a loving mother and wife, also a teetering-on-the–edge drug-addict & alcoholic who’s having an extramarital affair, struggling to redeem herself and convince herself that she’s not inherently a bad person.  

(Every time I look at the Yin & Yang symbol, I’m reminded that there is always some good in those that are bad, and there is some bad in those that we deem good)

Why I, THOTH, think ‘I Smile Back’ is severely underrated –

I’m thinking, most movies that are deemed good always leave you with an answer or some form of conclusion that justifies why you sat through it for an hour or two. Few movies, I’m thinking, dare to leave you abruptly with no answers and only more questions. This movie ends abruptly and I’m thinking, it isn’t trying to tell you a story and it doesn’t really have a message in particular. I’m thinking, this movie is simply a portrayal of a lady that’s struggling between giving into her addictions and destructive urges, and being – “a good wife, and a good mother, and a real person”.

(A lot of people didn’t like the abrupt ending of the movie, but I’m thinking that’s only because it’s so realistically abrupt. And we watch movies – hoping for conclusions in our inconclusive life)


You’re back in a moment in your life where you’re waiting for an inevitable doom to occur. Like you knew for a fact that the person you loved deeply was going to die in a few days, and you were the only one who knew this. Would you really spend the rest of the days loving them? Or would your subconscious need to protect yourself cause you to try detaching – because you don’t know how you’ll deal with the hurt? Until the fear of losing has you thinking – “I don’t see why anybody bothers loving anything… Don’t fall in love, don’t get married, don’t have kids. Don’t act like everything is going to be okay, when nothing is going to be okay”.

(Quotations marks indicate that I’m quoting someone. In this case – dialogues from the movie)

Now imagine your life slips into a zone where you’re always thinking like that. A zone, I’m thinking, where you can’t help but see every good thing in your life, as something you’re going to lose. That’s Laney Brooks – and this movie, I’m thinking, suggestively explores her life, leaving the audience to contemplate her fate and what causes it.

Watch it empathetically  

Above all else – I, Thoth, think that ‘I Smile Back’ can be truly understood and appreciated, only if you empathize with Laney Brooks and put yourself in her shoes. I‘m thinking, it is a perfect portrayal of how each time we give into dangerous addictions or temptations, it comes at the price of selling out a little bit of the love you have for your loved ones. Little by little. Until there’s no more love left to sell, but I’m thinking – there’s always more addiction left for you to buy into. And when you’re sunk in that dark sky of sin, the only hope like stars reflecting a bright past, are smiling memories of Kindness, Charity, Motherliness and Love, aligned as a constellation that form a dream-catcher, calling you back from the nightmare. Will you Smile Back?

(this would be the perfect ending, I’m thinking, but It would be an injustice to not talk about the unforgettable acting in this movie)

Sarah Silverman

I Smile Back, based on the novel by Amy Koppelman, is one of the few realest movies on addiction that I – Thoth – have encountered. Yet, I’m thinking, it must be said that it is unimaginable how this movie would have been possible without Sarah Silverman. After Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Steve Carell – she’s another stand-up comedian that takes up a serious role with this movie, and I’m thinking – she totally owns it! Her portrayal is one of the most genuine and convincing performances from an actress that I’ve ever seen. And everyone that watched or watches this movie, cannot help but unanimously agree on that at least. Even Josh Charles who plays her husband struggling to keep the family normal, while Silverman’s going through her phases, delivers a memorable performance.

I – Thoth – the thinking monk don’t have to think twice before saying that I absolutely disagree with both movie-reviewing Juggernauts – 

You Can't Handle The Truth

This review contained no spoilers, unless you count me revealing that a young version of Daredevil plays a vital role in this movie.



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