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For Ellen

By ERIK MCCLANAHAN
[ONE NIGHT ONLY] Many of you already know someone like Joby Taylor. As played by the ubiquitous Paul Dano (who’s yet to find a little indie film he won’t appear in), he’s a sad musician with a modicum of success, but he struggles to tackle life’s more mundane challenges. He’s late in signing his divorce papers, he drinks heavily, and he attempts to connect with his daughter. Many of you have seen movies like For Ellen—apparently there’s a factory run by indie movie elves near Sundance that churns these out by the dozen every year—but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a waste of time. Much of its worth depends on how you feel about the hit-or-miss Dano, who appears in every minute of the film. His performance is committed (rarely his problem as an actor), but a little too calibrated and mannered. South Korean writer-director So Yong Kim, a careful observer of low-key human drama making her English-language debut, is often named alongside other modern neo-neo-realism stalwarts like Kelly Reichardt and Ramin Bahrani, but For Ellen will most likely go down as a minor effort, especially among her brethren (and up against her last feature, the devastating Treeless Mountain). The stench of familiarity is strongest at the end, in a blatant rip-off of Five Easy Pieces. Sorry, Mr. Dano, Jack Nicholson you ain’t. ERIK MCCLANAHAN.
 

Special Note

Clinton Street Theater. 7:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 13
 
  • Genres: Drama
  • Running Time: 93 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, February 15, 2013
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Critic's Score: C+
  • Starring: Paul Dano [Joby], Jon Heder [Fred], Jena Malone [Susan], Margarita Leveiva [Claire], Shaylena Mandigo [Ellen], Dakota Johnson [Cindy], Alex Mauriello [Lisa]
  • Directed by: So Yong Kim [Director], So Yong Kim [Screenwriter], So Yong Kim [Producer], Bradley Rust Gray [Producer], Jen Gatien [Producer], Paul Dano [Executive Producer], Jonathan Vinnik [Executive Producer], Michael Clofine [Executive Producer], Tricia Quick [Executive Producer], Rui Reis [Executive Producer], Reed Morano [Cinematographer], So Yong Kim [Film Editor], Bradley Rust Gray [Film Editor], Jóhann Jóhannsson [Original Music], Ryan Smith [Production Design]
  • Watch the trailer
 

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  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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