Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 17, 2012
    88
    This performance, unlike anything Paul Dano has ever done, must have required some courage. It requires an actor to cast aside all conceits of performance, presence, charisma and even timing.
  2. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Oct 18, 2012
    90
    A small but exquisite film, beautifully observed and impeccably executed. Written and directed by So Yong Kim, it shows a different side of an actor we thought we knew and reveals unexpected aspects of a character who turns out to be not as familiar as he seems.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Sep 20, 2012
    63
    It has a sense of drift that both vexes and beguiles.
  4. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Sep 7, 2012
    60
    By concentrating so intently on the psychically unattached Joby, Kim hinders dramatic and character development. Her "Treeless Mountain," the Korea-set saga of two young sisters, was also quiet and open-ended. But the interplay between the two girls provided warmth and depth. For Ellen feels both colder and slighter.
  5. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Sep 7, 2012
    25
    Sundance Mopey Alienation Flick No. 4,228 is For Ellen, an empty angst-athon that proves 90 minutes of close-ups of Paul Dano looking wounded can be even less interesting than it sounds.
  6. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Sep 6, 2012
    58
    The drama is so minimalist that it's hard to glimpse the man behind the woe.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Sep 6, 2012
    60
    In a film that deliberately recalls 1970's "Five Easy Pieces," Dano's performance as a lost dreamer running from adulthood resonates beautifully.
  8. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Sep 5, 2012
    58
    The kind of film that rises or falls on the strength of its lead performance, given that its protagonist is in every scene, often alone. It's built around a strong turn by Dano, but one that feels studied and sometimes at odds with the naturalism the film aims for with its grubby settings, loose camerawork, and tendency toward inquisitive close-ups.
  9. Reviewed by: Michael Atkinson
    Sep 4, 2012
    50
    Dano, with his remarkably guileless meta-teen puss, is thoroughly convincing, which is more than can be said for the film's shameless climactic steal from "Five Easy Pieces."
  10. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Sep 4, 2012
    60
    Unfortunately, Kim nearly wrecks the film's observational acuteness with a climax that shamelessly steals from Bob Rafelson's classic blue-collar drama "Five Easy Pieces," and this faux-gut-punch finale feels haphazardly sutured on rather than arrived at organically. Guess that ham-fisted opening shot was a sign of things to come.
  11. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 4, 2012
    50
    Rather than finding an interesting, resonant ambiguity in his experience, Ms. Kim and Mr. Dano settle for a kind of suggestive vagueness, losing the thread of their character in the snow, steam and cigarette smoke that provide the film's main visual motif and perhaps also its dominant metaphor.
  12. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    Sep 1, 2012
    50
    The scant character development is not enhanced by the film's directorial style.
  13. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 1, 2012
    91
    Nobody else could fit the role of a crestfallen rocker that Paul Dano embodies in director So Yong Kim's remarkable For Ellen.
  14. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Sep 1, 2012
    80
    As a struggling rocker making a last-ditch attempt to gain shared custody of his daughter, Paul Dano delivers a beautifully wrought performance in a different key from any of his previous roles.
  15. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Sep 1, 2012
    63
    So Yong Kim's direction remains ruminative, even poetic, in its pacing, its sense of place, and its approach to intimacy, but this is her most unsuitable script.

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