Film review: For Ellen (15)


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The Independent Culture

There are so many long, pregnant silences in So Yong Kim's understated drama that you sometimes wonder if the actors have forgotten their lines.

Paul Dano battles against his natural unprepossessingness as an aspiring rock musician in a jam. He's come out to the sticks to sign divorce papers and get free of his estranged wife, but this will also mean forfeiting any claim on their six-year-old daughter, Ellen.

The latter is played with a wonderfully unnerving blue gaze by Shaylena Mandigo. I'd like to have seen more of Jon Heder as the square but well-meaning lawyer trying to cut his client a deal. Their scenes together could have been better developed.

Dano, petulant, inarticulate and self-obsessed, doesn't try to endear himself and comes off more poignantly because of it. The ending, with its motel and truck references, is a clear homage to Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces.