Box art for For Ellen

For Ellen

  • Rated NR

independent, special interest

From Tribeca Film. A powerful performance from Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood) as a burgeoning rock star wrestling with the prospect of losing custody of his young daughter. With Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite).

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 15
    see all For Ellen reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: It teeters on the line that separates drama from anecdote.

- A.O. Scott, New York Times, Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fresh: his quiet indie drama distinguishes itself most when writer-director So Yong Kim gets the rocker alone with his daughter for a brief visit that will probably be their last.

- J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader, Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rotten: Its anemic plot is almost nonexistent, and there's not enough substance to support Kim's languid style, resulting in a too-relaxed, 93-minute feature ...

- Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times, Thursday, September 13, 2012

Audience Reviews

3 stars

"For Ellen is a sad movie. Joby Taylor has always wanted fame, but has little of it. He left behind a wife and child trying to achieve it. When his estranged wife wants a divorce, Joby agrees to sign the papers thinking he will get half of the money from the sale of their home and shared custody of their daughter, Ellen. Joby is unaware of the final print in his divorce which states that since he will receive half of the homes sale money he will therefore sign over all rights over to his wife. Although I am no fan of absent father's, I did feel a little bad for Joby and sad for his daughter, Ellen. Joby's lawyer, Fred, tries to find a way for Joby to have shared custody, but is unable to. Joby talks his way into spending time with Ellen for the first and last time. Very bittersweet. Paul Danno is amazing as always. He really does give one of his better performances. The weight of the film is all on his performance for he is alone most of the time. All of the other actors play minor roles. It's not a film I would probably see again though. It's depressing."

- LWOODS04, Friday, February 22, 2013

3 stars

Paul Dano leads this emotionally taut drama as Joby Taylor, an aspiring musician who returns home to find his ex-wife is looking to gain sole custody of his young daughter. "For Ellen" lives and breathes with Dano's high caliber performance, wonderfully portraying a flawed character that the viewer still finds sympathy for. His daughter, played by Shaylena Mandigo, is a future star, with the poise and cold hard stares of an adult actress at the staggering age of six years old. Although most of the film is self-pity and denial on Joby's part, the film picks up when he reveals a secret about his ex-wife that leads to visitation rights for a day between Joby and Ellen. Had the film had more interaction between the two, this could have been a much stronger film, but what we're left with are a few solid scenes and long bit of emotional filler. Why Jon Heder's storyline was in the film, I am uncertain, as it adds very little to the story, if anything. Seeing Paul Dano act, however, is becoming a gift and any excuse to see him break out on the screen is a welcome distraction.

- xas5, Saturday, March 2, 2013

2 stars

This is a small and intimate film that has certain raw power in it but somehow it just did not connect me emotionally at all. Director/writer So Yong Kim is director who clearly relies on actors and their performances. Basically the story has loads of potential to become something important but it ends up being flat and even pointless. The story about a selfish young father who does not care anyone or anything else than himself and his rockstar fantasy is asking a lot from us in the audience. Should we care about this man or if he gets his second chance? I myself did not. While Paul Dano has showed some exceptional talent as an actor in a films like There Will Be Blood and The Good Heart, this is a first film where he is clearly miscast. There are moments when his intentions to create intense portrait of a fragile and damaged soul goes wildly over the top and the end result feels too forced to be nothing special. There is also crucial moments in this film where So Yong Kim aims for pure melodrama but the feelings are just not there. Oddly the whole film feels aimless, hollow and too muted. This is supposed to be story that touches your heart but i find it to be a disappointment when it comes to emotions. Technically it is an well made work and actually has a nice photography with beautiful and simple milieu. Too bad that Kim never finds a real story worth to tell from here and talk about unsatisfying ending. This is a missed opprtunity.

- emilkakko, Wednesday, March 13, 2013