Sunday, March 18, 2018

SXSW with Abe: Sadie

I’m so excited to be attending the film festival at South by Southwest for the first time, and I’ll be posting reviews throughout the week as I see as many movies as possible!

Directed by Megan Griffiths
Narrative Feature Competition

Sophia Mitri Schloss discusses the film

There are many different types of families, and not all children grow up with two parents in the picture. When one parent never existed or left for whatever reason prior to a child’s birth, that situation can be less difficult than when someone was there and then no longer was after their presence became a given. Divorce and other disruptions of a marriage can have immediate effects on the behavior of children, and it’s considerably more complicated when the union isn’t officially severed, just effectively so due to the absence of one partner, something that can be extremely confusing for those affected.

Sadie (Sophia Mitri Schloss) lives with her mother Rae (Melanie Lynskey), and the two don’t have a great rapport. Sadie writes frequently to her father, who has been serving in the military for a few years. While he returns her letters, he rarely communicates with his wife, causing her to entertain a close friendship with school counselor Bradley (Tony Hale), a relationship she casts aside when the far more self-assured, less clingy Cyrus (John Gallagher Jr.) moves in next door. After Cyrus spends the night, Sadie sees a threat to the happy marriage that will resume once her father returns and sets out to make sure that Cyrus does not become a permanent fixture in her mother’s life.

Sadie is a solitary character, one who has just one friend, her neighbor Francis (Keith L. Williams), who she frequently shields from bullying at school. Sadie clearly has an attachment to her father that has only deepened during his absence, and though she is astute and creative in finding ways to make her mother’s new suitor uncomfortable, mixing medicines into food so that he will get sick, her worldview is remarkably naïve and relegated to the hope that all will be the same as it once was, or at least how she remembers it, once he comes back to them.

Schloss rarely smiles throughout the film, delivering her own interpretation of a teenager ruled by angst and lashing out against her mother because her father is not there and she in part blames her for it. Lynskey and Hale are rarely found in drama but perform decently, as does Gallagher Jr. in a less friendly part than usual and Danielle Brooks in a supporting role. The film as a whole starts from an interesting place but loses steam as it progresses, and discussions after the film about the lengthy process from conception to release are evident in its dated treatment of issues like school violence. Sadie is a worthwhile lead character but this story in particular doesn’t seem to justify her existence.


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