Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 by Angie Han
Having played struggling writers in Being Flynn and Ruby Sparks, Paul Dano is switching gears to play a struggling musician in For Ellen, his third feature of 2012. Directed by So Yong Kim (Treeless Mountain), the indie drama centers around a wannabe rock star named Joby Taylor who never quite attained the fame and fortune he set out to achieve.
He faces failure in other aspects of his life as well: After years of absentee parenting, he suddenly faces the prospect of losing his kid completely when his lawyer (Jon Heder) hands him divorce papers giving his estranged wife (Margarita Levieva) sole custody. He decides to reach out to his daughter in a last-ditch effort to reconnect. Jena Malone and Dakota Johnson also star, along with newcomer Shaylena Mandigo as the titular six-year-old. Watch the trailer after the jump.
It’s pretty obvious that For Ellen won’t be for everyone. The trailer is very downbeat and slow, and festival reviews suggest the same is true of the movie as a whole. But those who don’t mind a glacial pace can look forward to a moving performance by Dano, and gawk at the sight of Napoleon Dynamite himself in a rare dramatic role. Those who’d rather sit this one out, on the other hand, needn’t fret — there’s still more Dano coming down the pipeline this year, in Rian Johnson’s Looper.
For Ellen hits theaters September 5, and VOD September 19.
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Aspiring rock star Joby Taylor (Paul Dano- THERE WILL BE BLOOD, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) has wanted nothing more than to “make it”, having flirted with fame but never crossed over into true success. In the midst of a low period in his life, he agrees to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife (Margarita Levieva- “Revenge,” “How To Make It In America”) in order to see money from the sale of their home, only to discover that by signing the papers, he will forfeit all custody of his six-year-old daughter, Ellen (newcomer Shaylena Mandigo). With a good-natured lawyer (Jon Heder- NAPOLEON DYNAMITE) unable to make headway in reversing the decision, and a girlfriend (Jena Malone- INTO THE WILD) that represents an era of his life that he might be ready to graduate from, Joby negotiates a visit with his daughter to explore whether he is able to walk away from his child, and whether it might be too late for reconciliation.
FOR ELLEN stems from Kim’s desire to understand her own father, and an imagined confrontation if he ever returned to her. Using the stark beauty and vast farmlands of an American winter as its backdrop, the film charts Joby’s emotional journey as he realizes what he has lost – and what, if anything, can still be saved.