For Ellen (2012)
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 make headway in reversing the decision, and a girlfriend (Jena Malone) that represents an era of his life that he might be ready to graduate from, Joby negotiates a visit with his daughter to explore whether he is able to walk away from his child, and whether it might be too late for reconciliation. -- (C) Tribeca … More
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Critic Reviews for For Ellen
It's uncomfortably funny, achingly true - and the work of an absolutely genuine artist.
"For Ellen" is a small but exquisite film, beautifully observed and impeccably executed.
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.
This performance, unlike anything Paul Dano has ever done, must have required some courage.
"For Ellen" tries one's patience, but what works, works for keeps.
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 ...
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.
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.
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).
Paul Dano makes So Yong Kim's story of a deadbeat rocker with marriage problems his own.
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.
A tender and engaging drama with a handful of touching scenes and a stellar performance from Paul Dano ...
Awkward, spartan storytelling from Korean director So Yong Kim that captures the tender heart of family bonds.
Although little is explicitly stated, the characters' back-story is effectively communicated - yet it's difficult to truly care.
Writer-director So Yong Kim's mastery of tone and elements turns For Ellen into a thing of tender, forlorn beauty.
[A] glacially paced indie from Treeless Mountain director So Yong Kim, a Sundance special whose muted emotions take a while to access.
Mandingo's so good, it's a shame that Dano is his typically mannered self.
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.
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."
'For Ellen'. Paul Dano and his emotive face are utterly captivating in this bittersweet indie fare.More
"For Ellen" starts with Joby(Paul Dano), a musician, driving into a snow bank when he eats and drives one morning. He is in the middle of nowhere to finalize the divorce with his estranged wife Claire(Margarita Levieva) but then balks at the fine print. At least, in the meantime, he gets an invitation for home cooked lasagna.
Ever since the invention of drama, it has been debated whether or not there could be an excellent performance in a lackluster play or movie. Well, I would like to submit the dramatically uneven "For Ellen" as exhibit A. Again, Paul Dano proves he is one of the best actors of his generation, fully embodying his character. But sadly, Joby is the only show here, as the camera cannot leave him alone for a minute, unlike other characters, thus not allowing for any meaningful perspective on the situation. For example, I would have especially liked to have seen events also from Claire's point of view. That's not to mention a perplexing ending which only serves to muddle the movie's message.
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.More
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