Review: ‘The Vanishing of Sidney Hall’ weighs heavy.

The idea of personal responsibility can be a double-edged sword. It can be our life’s motivating factor or our downfall. In the new film The Vanishing of Sidney Hall, one young man’s past has an effect on the entire world around him.

After publishing a bestselling novel based on the death of one of his high school classmates, the controversial writer Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman) finds himself catapulted to unexpected fame and renown. His relationship with his girlfriend (Elle Fanning) begins to fall apart as the dark consequences of the book intrude on their life together, and he disappears without a trace. Nearly a decade later, an enigmatic detective searches for the missing author, whose books are connected to a string of mysterious arsons.

There was something about this film that really affected me throughout its nonlinear two-hour run. The script tackles issues from resentment to guilt, human connection to the feeling of powerlessness. With the award-winning performances from no less than four cast members, including Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, Michelle Monohan, and Blake Jenner, The Vanishing of Sidney Hall has a twisted plot that pulls your emotions in various directions throughout. The one overall theme here is undoubtedly sadness. The film has a heaviness that is unshakeable. It’s a strangely perfect companion piece to Netflix‘s 13 Reason’s Why, and without going into too much detail (because I want you to see it) the film’s themes are universally relevant. The film’s score acts as an emotional and nostalgic catalyst to the time jumps. Despite the terrible beard on Logan Lerman throughout a third of the film, he gives the audience a multilayered and tragic performance that makes Sidney Hall what it is. Speaking of tragic, Blake Jenner plays a seemingly typical jock with a hard-on for bullying but it’s his character’s home life that haunts many others in the film. A massive departure from his role in GLEE, I hope Jenner gets some much-deserved attention from this one. Elle Fanning is ever surprising as a bold, unique, and confident girl next door (or across the street to be exact) saddled with both the romantic and strained man Lerner becomes. Michelle Monaghan plays against type as Sidney’s mother. A woman’s whose vitriol and resentment make her loathsome. The cast boasts other heavy hitters like Kyle Chandler and Nathan Lane. There is not a weak link in the entire ensemble.  I can tell you, you won’t be able to guess how this one wraps up. The Vanishing of Sidney Hall is fraught with love but mostly the loss of it. Be prepared prior to viewing.

THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL  

Exclusively on Direct TV on January 25th & In Theaters on March 2nd

Director by:  Shawn Christensen (Academy Award Winner – Curfew, Abduction,)

Written by: Shawn Christensen & Jason Dolan

THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL stars Logan Lerman (Perks of Being a Wallflower, Indignation), Elle Fanning (Super 8, Maleficent, The Neon Demon)Michelle Monaghan (“True Detective,” Gone Baby Gone, Source Code)Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”, “Bloodline”, and Manchester By The Sea) and Nathan Lane (“Modern Family,” The “People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story”).

Review: ‘The Edge of Seventeen’- The Perfect Coming of Age Movie for a New Generation

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From director Kelly Fremon Craig comes The Edge of Seventeen, a story centered around a young high school girl named Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) and the trials and tribulations known simply as, “her life.” This coming of age movie provides a comedic, yet brutally honest look at what it’s like to be different and face the daily struggle of growing up. Like many films that have come before and spoken to a generation that yearns to be seen for their individualism, this film screams for millennials in a way no other could.

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High school junior Nadine leads a complicated existence. Between her awkwardness, dealing with a family tragedy, and a mother (Kyra Sedgwick) trying to understand how to connect with her, life hasn’t exactly worked out the way she planned. Nadine has navigated most of her life with best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), her only friend who has helped curb her feelings of being an outcast and stands as the lone bright light in her dark world. All of that changes when Krista begins to date Nadine’s older brother Darian (Blake Jenner), which leads to a total meltdown mentally for Nadine. Faced with the unknown of her life once again, Nadine turns to her teacher and reluctant mentor Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) for words of wisdom to help her face the world that she now faces, but it’s an unexpected friendship with Erwin (Hayden Szeto), an equally as awkward student who might be the one to show her that things aren’t that terrible after all.

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This film connects with the psyche of every person who ever felt out of place in a big world where nothing makes sense. Hailee Steinfeld is quirky and wonderful as the unpredictable Nadine. She embodies the essence of being an awkward outcast with perfection. Woody Harrelson is wonderfully cast in the role of Mr Bruner and offers a raw, carefully restrained voice of reason for Nadine which, at times, seems to speak directly to the audience to provide some free therapy for our own lives. The stand out star of the film is Hayden Szeto whose thoughtful, awkward Erwin shows Nadine that it’s OK to be live by different rules and not allow it to exist as a negative in your life.

Overall, The Edge of Seventeen is the perfect coming of age film for this generation and stands as a reminder to us all to take a look inside and remember what it’s like to grow up.

Stars:

4 out of 5

Trailer: