Critic Reviews



Based on 15 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Nobody else could fit the role of a crestfallen rocker that Paul Dano embodies in director So Yong Kim's remarkable For Ellen.
As a struggling rocker making a last-ditch attempt to gain shared custody of his daughter, Paul Dano delivers a beautifully wrought performance in a different key from any of his previous roles.
Slant Magazine
So Yong Kim's direction remains ruminative, even poetic, in its pacing, its sense of place, and its approach to intimacy, but this is her most unsuitable script.
Unfortunately, Kim nearly wrecks the film's observational acuteness with a climax that shamelessly steals from Bob Rafelson's classic blue-collar drama "Five Easy Pieces," and this faux-gut-punch finale feels haphazardly sutured on rather than arrived at organically. Guess that ham-fisted opening shot was a sign of things to come.
In a film that deliberately recalls 1970's "Five Easy Pieces," Dano's performance as a lost dreamer running from adulthood resonates beautifully.
The kind of film that rises or falls on the strength of its lead performance, given that its protagonist is in every scene, often alone. It's built around a strong turn by Dano, but one that feels studied and sometimes at odds with the naturalism the film aims for with its grubby settings, loose camerawork, and tendency toward inquisitive close-ups.
The drama is so minimalist that it's hard to glimpse the man behind the woe.
The scant character development is not enhanced by the film's directorial style.
Rather than finding an interesting, resonant ambiguity in his 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.
Village Voice
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."

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