For Ellen

"Good"

For Ellen Review


One of those mopey independent dramas that drifts through a mere hint of a plot, this film is worth a look for its unusual setting and a superb central performance from Paul Dano (last seen in Looper). Filmmaker Kim focusses so closely on him that everything else on screen kind of fades into the background, turning the movie into a deeply personal odyssey. Although there isn't much more to it than that.

Dano plays an aimless rocker named Joby, who travels to a snowy town to settle his divorce from Claire (Levieva). She's so angry with him that she won't even see him for the sake of their young daughter Ellen (Mandigo), preferring to talk through lawyers. And since she knows Joby is deeply in debt, she makes a cruel offer: he can have half the value of their marital home if he signs over sole custody of Ellen, whom he barely knows anyway. But this isn't an easy decision, and Joby can only get so much help from his inexperienced lawyer (Heder). As part of the negotiations, Joby gets to spend two hours with his daughter. And then he has to make up his mind.

Dano is superb as the hapless Joby, who finds it so difficult to concentrate on his life that he's about to be thrown out of his own band. As a result, his life seems to be one mess after another, leading to this key moment when he needs to snap to attention. So it's especially intriguing that we can feel the internal pull toward his daughter: he wants to be a good dad, but is terrified of doing something wrong. And the film finds a lively counterpoint in Heder's comically clueless lawyer, another grown man who is painfully ill-equipped to face the real world.

All of this is expressed with very little dialog, which is particularly impressive except that it allows writer-director Kim to avoid establishing any real narrative structure. The film feels as meandering as Joby, which makes it vague and elusive. We never have a clue why Joby finds it so impossible to wake up and take responsibility for something this important. Because of Dano's transparent performance, we can see that he's trying, but his resolute inaction is rather maddening to watch. As a result, the film feels like it never quite breaks through the surface. We may see into Joby's soul, but it never comes into focus.

Rich Cline



For Ellen

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 19th September 2012

Distributed by: Tribeca Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: So Yong Kim

Producer: , Bradley Rust Gray, So Yong Kim

Starring: as Joby Taylor, as Fred Butler, as Susan, as Claire Taylor, Shaylena Mandigo as Ellen Taylor, Alex Mauriello as Lisa

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Advertisement
Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.