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”).

[FLASHBACK] Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Tumbledown_Press_1 TribecaRebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.tumbledownjasonsudeikisrebeccahall

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.jasonsudeikistumbledownrebeccahall


I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

Originally posted April 20, 2015

Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown_Press_1 Tribeca

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Rebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.


 

I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

You can still catch a screening of TUMBLEDOWN at the fest this Thursday!! I cannot imagine this film not getting distribution. We will most certainly keep you updated here at RND.

3:30 PM – THU 4/23  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-11Icon-fg-map ADD $13.50
To find out more about TUMBLEDOWN in the Tribeca Film Guide 2015