Sunday, 24 February 2013

REVIEW - FOR ELLEN


A haze seems to hover over So Yong Kim's For Ellen. It lends the locations an impermanence, and the events which take place in these locations. The muted colour palette, the slow pace, the mumbled dialogue - this is life as it is, not as it is fashioned to be in movies, to stimulate us. Joby Taylor is at a turning point, and facing down, or avoiding facing down, the result of several misplaced years, chasing a career as a rock star which only he is unable to discern is a fruitless endeavour. Kim maintains a subdued tone throughout, even as emotions come to the fore, or ought to come to the fore, at least by Hollywood standards. Because, in truth, life goes on, carrying us through even the most painful stretches, ticking away as steadily and as uncaringly as ever. The locations we inhabit do not change, and no-one around us knows, nor often cares, what we're going through. Joby has brought his sufferings on himself, and will continue to evade them until life changes him, as he cannot change his own life, not willingly. But Paul Dano summons up and out the heart of his despair, and enables us to appreciate that pain even when warranted is no less painful than when not. In the moment, it still hurts. The other cast members are equally impressive, including Jon Heder, displaying surprising versatility, and Shaylena Mandingo as Ellen, who never once appears to be acting. The ending is extremely derivative, but if the glove fits...