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16 days to watch
654 Ratings

For Ellen

Directed by Kim So Yong
United States, 2012


When Joby, an aspiring rock star, agrees to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife, he discovers that he is about to forfeit all custody of his six-year-old daughter, Ellen. Never having been in Ellen’s life before, Joby suddenly realizes that he’s not ready to lose that part of himself.

Our take

In her first time working with professional actors—Dano!—South Korea-born So Yong Kim delivers an unaffected, quietly moving portrait of estranged fatherhood, sharply tracing what the life of a fading rock star is like when no one’s looking. A tender, intimate journey through the depths of winter.

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The character’s pitiful narcissism is certainly sliced for sandwiches, and the film does find a patient balance between its obvious sincerity and the scenario’s lack of depth and surprise. Dano, with his remarkably guileless meta-teen puss, is thoroughly convincing, which is more than can be said for the film’s shameless climactic steal from Five Easy Pieces.
September 05, 2012
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“For Ellen,”So Yong Kim’s third feature, is a remarkably quiet film. But rather than finding an interesting, resonant ambiguity in [Joby’s] experience, Ms. Kim and Mr. Dano settle for a kind of suggestive vagueness, losing the thread of their character in the snow, steam and cigarette smoke that provide the film’s main visual motif and perhaps also its dominant metaphor.
September 04, 2012
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Virtually a one-man-showcase for Paul Dano, it rises and falls on his performance, and at times it seems like he’s doing an awful lot, working too hard for minimal returns. But the film has a 70s American New Wave air to it (Scarecrow came to mind while I was watching it, Five Easy Pieces after) that’s hard to shake.
January 22, 2012
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What are people saying?

  • KafkaesqueKyle's rating of the film For Ellen

    It won't stand out as one of the greatest films, but I love a film that just works for me. I don't regret seeing this at all, and it's a nice movie to remember from time to time.

  • msmichel's rating of the film For Ellen

    Paul Dano gives an affecting turn here as an absent father about to forfeit his parental rites who suddenly feels that pang of paternal longing when he meets his six year old daughter. Shot in Massena, New York and Cornwall, Ontario in the midst of winter the location adds another layer of both melancholy and possible rebirth. The enigmatic ending works in the films favour.

  • Ashley Spendlove's rating of the film For Ellen

    Kim has a real aptitude for capturing the subtle nuances of psychology and mood. The film has an easy pace which never drags and makes a virtue of the combination of an economical screenplay with long takes. The performance are very good indeed, Dano and Mandigo especially, and overall this is a cut above your standard indie fare. Kim is clearly in control of her craft and her work possesses admirable sensitivity.

  • Evan Schafer's rating of the film For Ellen

    This is a perfect example of a film that tries to be something when it isn't very much at all. Sadly, this picture was a startling disappointment, although I am fond of Paul Dano. The film felt like an attempt to be a more hip "Kramer vs. Kramer". Even the two hours the main character gets to spend with his daughter felt like an actual two hours. Too much space to do things, not enough chances taken, in my opinion.

  • Ankit Jain's rating of the film For Ellen

    I like the composition in a few shots, a different and calm one. I like the approach, the director has chosen for this, exploring the behaviour in just “two hours”. Although better movies, of the same type and structure, have been written and directed before so I guess that makes it 4*.

  • Artyom Yakovlev's rating of the film For Ellen

    Boring, long, pointless. It suffers from bad editing, unadventurous cinematography, predictable screenplay and lackluster directing. Supposed to be a character study of a person in difficult circumstances in the midst of a life crisis, it is Paul Dano’s solo performance where he plays himself. The film is totally reliant on his acting but it’s not enough to get the audience interested. Even the OST can’t save it.

  • Leo Ortega's rating of the film For Ellen

    This is not a bad movie at all, on the contrary, it really contributes an experience if you’re an artist and have children with ex girlfriends. It’s also not an amazing arthouse film, which what I’m into, but it’s a good indie film no doubt. Some people say they didn’t like it and that it is slow. So what, it’s very deep and sensitive content, this is not just mainstream entertainment, this is meaningful storytelling

  • Wren's rating of the film For Ellen

    I gave it 20 minutes but it is so small and slow that I couldn't keep watching. Too boring for me but I can see the appeal if you're into character studies I guess? Though it seemed to lack a bit of nuance.

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