Fair warning - I'm not sure how I feel about this film. Perhaps, by the time I'm done writing this, I will have decided.
Paul Dano stars in 'For Ellen' as Joby - a struggling musician that is dealing with an ongoing divorce and subsequent custody battle over their child in common named 'Ellen.'
I'll just get right to my biggest complaint- the pace of this movie and the relationship the characters have with one another was rather choppy. The interactions characters have throughout the film seem rather one-noted, and because of that, it's hard to feel as emotionally invested as the audience should be given the story contents. I have questions regarding why some scenes were made to be as long as they were (because, in the end, they didn't really feel important) in addition to questioning why some characters weren't given more time to develop or provide the audience with backstory that would have made the ending feel more appropriately "conclusive."
Secondly, I really don't mind being forced to make inferences about things that happen in a movie, but it happened far too often while watching this. Just as an example - the audience is told that Joby is in a position where he must surrender any rights he has to his child (as part of his impending divorce agreement) and we are not given ANY information regarding this decision being made in the first place. I might be thinking WAAAY in to it, but I was expecting to hear cited reasons (For example, allegations of abuse) for a parents rights being willingly terminated and all I got were implications that Joby is willingly absent and doesn't really care for having the responsibilities of being a father. There is a conversation towards the end where the audience receives some insight regarding Joby's struggle as a parent up to this point, but it just isn't enough to justify some of the 'holes' that were purposefully placed inside of this film.
To end on a good note, Dano's acting in this film wa spectacular; this is actually probably one of his best roles. Dano is all of the things a character in this position should be seen as - confused, disorganized, fearful, and sometimes a little bit awkward. His mannerisms and cadence appear natural, and they change depending on which character in the story he's associating with. Most notably, his characters' uncomfortable interactions with his daughter are spot-on and pull some unexpected sympathy out of an audience that can imagine being in his position.
Despite the movie having some flaws, Dano's performance redeems what would otherwise be an unfavorable experience.
It's not the best, but it's so far from being the worst. Just give the movie a chance, and see where it takes you.