Warning! Smile SPOILERS.Smile has an excellent twist involving Robin Weigert’s character, Dr. Madeline Northcott, but it gets even better with an unnerving casting trick. Directed by Parker Finn and based on his Laura didn’t sleep short movie, Smile stars Sosie Bacon as Rose Cotter, a therapist who experiences strange supernatural occurrences after witnessing the bizarre suicide of a distressed patient. As the horror movie progresses, it becomes clear that Rose is dealing with a demon that feeds on the trauma of its victims.
At first Smile, Rose reaches out to Dr. Madeline. It’s a relatively brief encounter that establishes the story between the two therapists, while also making it clear that Dr. Madeline is a reassuring presence and one of the few people in Rose’s life who is willing to listen to her without judgment. Their relationship deteriorates, with Rose becoming paranoid, and this sets the stage for Dr. Madeline.
near the end of Smile, Dr. Madeline visits Rose at her house. Madeline says she wants to make sure her ex-patient isn’t a danger to herself or those around her. In the midst of the tense conversation, the phone rings. The behavior of Dr. Madeline changes as she waits for Rose to respond. It turns out that Madeline is calling to apologize, and the person at Rose’s house, sitting across from Rose, is the demon. The demon is using Madeline’s face, which slowly turns into a menacing smile, and has come to deliver a message to its next victim.
How Robin Weigert’s Typecasting Makes a Smile Better
Weigert is a familiar face to viewers. She received an Emmy nomination for her performance as Calamity Jane in dead woodand she’s had big supporting roles in shows like Jessica Jones and Sons of Anarchy. In recent years, the actress has won praise for portraying calm, measured therapists. She played Verena Baptist in dietlandand she notably shared the screen with Nicole Kidman in Big Lies. Speaking in soothing tones and choosing each of her words carefully, Dr. Amanda Reisman helped Kidman’s character Celeste out of her abusive marriage. Although Dr. Amanda was just a recurring character in Big LiesWeigert’s scenes with Kidman were some of the best in the series and did much to elevate the series’ dramatic and emotional heft.
Smile leans towards Weigert’s filmography to subversive effect. Dr. Madeline also speaks calmly and carefully when the audience first meets her. She, like Weigert’s other therapists, comes across as a warm and mildly stern authority figure. Even if you weren’t familiar with Weigert’s previous roles, there’s something really dark about Rose’s therapist chasing after her and grabbing her face, and telling her she’s going to be the next victim. She would have worked with a different actor in the role.
It works even better with Weigert’s filmography in mind. She is the person who essentially grabbed the hero from Big Lies by the arm and urged her to do the right thing. She’s the one sitting through all those emotionally painful sessions, having to hear difficult confessions and then knowing exactly what needs to be said in response. She represents a force for good. Smile takes this for a shocking twist, making Dr. Madeline literally the face of evil and deploying her authority to a cleverly sinister end.