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For Ellen (2012)



Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 6

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 2,334

My Rating

Movie Info

Aspiring rock star Joby Taylor (Paul Dano) has wanted nothing more than to "make it", having flirted with fame but never crossed over into true success. In the midst of a low period in his life, he agrees to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife (Margarita Levieva) in order to see money from the sale of their home, only to discover that by signing the papers, he will forfeit all custody of his six-year-old daughter, Ellen (Shaylena Mandigo). With a good-natured lawyer (Jon Heder) unable to



So Yong Kim

Feb 18, 2013

Tribeca Film - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (12)

It's uncomfortably funny, achingly true - and the work of an absolutely genuine artist.

February 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"For Ellen" is a small but exquisite film, beautifully observed and impeccably executed.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

his quiet indie drama distinguishes itself most when writer-director So Yong Kim gets the rocker alone with his daughter for a brief visit that will probably be their last.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This performance, unlike anything Paul Dano has ever done, must have required some courage.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"For Ellen" tries one's patience, but what works, works for keeps.

September 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Its anemic plot is almost nonexistent, and there's not enough substance to support Kim's languid style, resulting in a too-relaxed, 93-minute feature ...

September 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This low-key but shrewdly observed US indie movie from Korean-American writer-director So Yong Kim pointedly opens with a man at a crossroads, unsure of which direction to take. Decision made, he soon afterwards skids into a snowdrift.

February 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

Mumblecore stuff with touching, truthful moments ...

February 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

It's almost as though we're working toward an inverted, non-humorous riposte to John Goodman's line in The Big Lebowski: Say what you like about nihilism, at least it's an ethos.

February 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

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).

February 15, 2013 Full Review Source:

Paul Dano makes So Yong Kim's story of a deadbeat rocker with marriage problems his own.

February 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

It's a challenging watch - Yong Kim allows plenty of time for the scenes to breathe - but it's genuinely touching, ending on a note that says all too much about the nature of the ultimate commitment-phobe.

February 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

A tender and engaging drama with a handful of touching scenes and a stellar performance from Paul Dano ...

February 14, 2013 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Awkward, spartan storytelling from Korean director So Yong Kim that captures the tender heart of family bonds.

February 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Although little is explicitly stated, the characters' back-story is effectively communicated - yet it's difficult to truly care.

February 11, 2013 Full Review Source: The List
The List

Writer-director So Yong Kim's mastery of tone and elements turns For Ellen into a thing of tender, forlorn beauty.

February 7, 2013 Full Review Source:

[A] glacially paced indie from Treeless Mountain director So Yong Kim, a Sundance special whose muted emotions take a while to access.

January 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

To make a short story long ...

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: RedEye

Mandingo's so good, it's a shame that Dano is his typically mannered self.

September 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

It is the sensitively crafted, difficult struggle of father and daughter to connect, that forms the tender and awkward anchor of this tale. And that is the real romance here, a delicately nuanced unusual love story that is the heart of this movie.

September 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Long Island Press
Long Island Press

Audience Reviews for For Ellen

"For Ellen is a sad movie. Joby Taylor has always wanted fame, but has little of it. He left behind a wife and child trying to achieve it. When his estranged wife wants a divorce, Joby agrees to sign the papers thinking he will get half of the money from the sale of their home and shared custody of their daughter, Ellen. Joby is unaware of the final print in his divorce which states that since he will receive half of the homes sale money he will therefore sign over all rights over to his wife. Although I am no fan of absent father's, I did feel a little bad for Joby and sad for his daughter, Ellen. Joby's lawyer, Fred, tries to find a way for Joby to have shared custody, but is unable to. Joby talks his way into spending time with Ellen for the first and last time. Very bittersweet.
Paul Danno is amazing as always. He really does give one of his better performances. The weight of the film is all on his performance for he is alone most of the time. All of the other actors play minor roles. It's not a film I would probably see again though. It's depressing."
February 22, 2013

Super Reviewer

'For Ellen'. Paul Dano and his emotive face are utterly captivating in this bittersweet indie fare.
June 15, 2012
c0up †

Super Reviewer

This film strikes out. I felt like I had seen this type of film before and done better (example: Somewhere). The majority of the cast in my opinion are miscast. The only one that shines is Shaylena Mandigo playing little Ellen. She steals the film. The cinematography and editing are terrible here. The pacing is off. Some scenes are too slow.
January 11, 2014
Sol C

Super Reviewer

Paul Dano leads this emotionally taut drama as Joby Taylor, an aspiring musician who returns home to find his ex-wife is looking to gain sole custody of his young daughter. "For Ellen" lives and breathes with Dano's high caliber performance, wonderfully portraying a flawed character that the viewer still finds sympathy for. His daughter, played by Shaylena Mandigo, is a future star, with the poise and cold hard stares of an adult actress at the staggering age of six years old. Although most of the film is self-pity and denial on Joby's part, the film picks up when he reveals a secret about his ex-wife that leads to visitation rights for a day between Joby and Ellen. Had the film had more interaction between the two, this could have been a much stronger film, but what we're left with are a few solid scenes and long bit of emotional filler. Why Jon Heder's storyline was in the film, I am uncertain, as it adds very little to the story, if anything. Seeing Paul Dano act, however, is becoming a gift and any excuse to see him break out on the screen is a welcome distraction.
March 2, 2013

Super Reviewer

    1. John Taylor: We wanted to make it so bad.
    2. Ellen Taylor: Have you made it?
    – Submitted by Chris P (19 months ago)
    1. John Taylor: You don't talk to me that way!
    2. John Taylor: Hello?
    – Submitted by Chris P (19 months ago)
View all quotes (2)

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