Sundance review: "For Ellen"
Published: January 22, 2012 02:08AM
Updated: January 25, 2012 02:43PM
Paul Dano plays a would-be rock star trying to get joint custody of his 6-year-old girl in "For Ellen." Courtesy Sundance Institute

“For Ellen”

U.S. Dramatic

*** (three stars)

Paul Dano (“There Will Be Blood,” “Meek's Cutoff”) gives an achingly tender performance here as Joby Taylor, a struggling rock musician who returns to an upstate New York town to settle his divorce from his long-estranged wife Claire (Margarita Levieva). The sticking point is whether Joby will get joint custody of their six-year-old daughter Ellen (Shaylana Mandigo), whom Joby barely knows. Writer-director So Young Kim (who has been to Sundance before with “Treeless Mountain” and “In Between Days”) creates a spare, elegant script into which Dano channels all of Joby's unfulfilled rock 'n' roll dreams and his regret for not helping Ellen more.

-- Sean P. Means

“For Ellen” screens again: