After the Campaign, Movie Marketing

After the Campaign: I Smile Back

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In my review of the marketing campaign for I Smile Back I wrote:

It’s a fine line the marketing team has been walking with the campaign. The easy route – and deceptive one – would be to find the eight moments from the movie where Silverman is laughing or doing something funny and use them to try and sell it as maybe a dark comedy or some such. But I don’t feel like they did that, instead really focusing on this being her first big dramatic movie role.

And it certainly is a dramatic role. Silverman is great as a woman who’s struggling not just with depression but with some deep emotional and mental issues, giving a moving and often unpleasant (but in a good way) performance of someone who can’t stop herself from giving in to her own worst impulses. You can’t take your eyes off her in the movie, even as you kind of wish you could because she keeps finding new levels of self-destructive behavior.

While the marketing didn’t give into the temptation to sell the movie with a few funny Silverman-featuring moments it also didn’t come close to plumbing the depths her character descends into. There are a few shots her knocking back wine or other alcohol or doing some sort of drug or another but really it gets a lot worse. The marketing has a few shots showing how much she loves and is devoted to her kids but there’s a major vein in the story about the kind of danger, both physical and emotional, danger she puts them in. The campaign doesn’t hint at that, nor does it really include anything from the last half hour or so of the story, which is where things begin their final downward spiral.

So no, the campaign didn’t misrepresent the movie. But I feel like a second trailer could have gone into some of these story elements that weren’t covered without having spoiled anything about how the characters wind up.

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