I dived into this film thinking that it was a typical detective story. This is not your typical detective story; it is so much more, and it was such a wonderful surprise! Don't let the description drive you away if detective dramas aren't your jam.
The Disappearance of Sidney Hall tells the story of a young high school student who, as an underappreciated but prolific writer, hits it big when he indirectly becomes involved in the drama of another student and writes a novel about it. This novel becomes so famous and polarizing (think The Catcher in the Rye), that it begins to control his life in ways he could never have imagined, and he disappears, both literally and figuratively. Logan Lerman is excellent in the role of Sidney, who ages from approximately seventeen to thirty during the course of the film. I was stunned that this was the kid from the Percy Jackson movies, LOL! Kyle Chandler plays the quiet, unassuming detective, and is brilliant, as always; and Elle Fanning is sweet, charming, and heartbreaking as Sidney's love.
There are a couple of small twists in this film that I didn't see coming, and I appreciated them because they were done in such a smooth, understated manner. They quietly sneak in and make themselves known, and I love writing that does this successfully, without a big reveal necessary to make the story impactful. This film left me feeling poignant and pondering. It very much reminded me of two of my favorite novels by writer John Irving: The World According to Garp with a little bit of A Prayer for Owen Meany thrown in.
If one suspends disbelief at some elements of the plot, i.e., Sidney's literal overnight success, his teacher's connections, etc., that take place early in the film, and enjoys the story as a whole, this is an exceptional little movie!