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Review: For Ellen

A man/child gets a brief taste of adult responsibility
By BRETT MICHEL  |  September 18, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars

Barely visible in a close-up behind the wheel of his car until the flame from his lighter illuminates his angular profile, floundering rocker Joby Taylor (Paul Dano) promptly spins into a snow bank. It's going to be that kind of trip. Unfortunately, writer/director So Yong Kim never brings Taylor fully into the light in her portrait of a young man/child who gets a brief taste of adult responsibility on the eve of his divorce. A deadbeat dad, Taylor is allowed to spend a couple of hours with Ellen (Shaylena Mandingo), the six-year-old daughter he's about to cede all custodial rights to as part of the settlement. Their scenes together are the heart of the film, and Kim elicits a similarly naturalistic performance out of the non-professional actress, just as she did with the juvenile protagonists of her superior previous picture, Treeless Mountain. Mandingo's so good, it's a shame that Dano is his typically mannered self.

  Topics: Reviews , Paul Dano, Treeless Mountain
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