THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL – A Review by Cynthia Flores
I had hoped that this would be a modern take on what it might have been like if J.D. Salinger, who wrote the 1951 groundbreaking book Catcher in the Rye, had done it as a modern teenage writer with the kind of media coverage he would have gotten writing a book about a suicide victim in a small town. But it’s not, even though the trailer makes you think otherwise. Instead, the film, The Vanishing of Sidney Hall, is a time jumping film about Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman), a young novelist who writes a generation defining book that makes him world famous. We first meet him at age eighteen in high school just before he writes his book. Then, again at twenty-four as he’s dealing with the fame from that great book being pushed for the Pulitzer Prize by his literary agent Harold (Nathan Lane) while his marriage to Melody (Elle Fanning), his high school sweetheart, is falling to pieces. Oh, and he’s having a secret affair with Harold's daughter Alexandra (Margaret Qualley) on the side. We finally meet him again at thirty when he’s become a dirty, beard wearing, no name vagabond heading westward to an empty house in the Arizona desert with only his dog and a need to find copies of his books in libraries to burn them. All three of these timelines are cobbled together back and forth to put the puzzle of his life into place for us. Add to all of that, the storyline of the Searcher (Kyle Chandler), who may or may not be a police officer on the trail of the thirty-year-old Sidney.
If all this sounds like too much, it is. The actors are really good but the pacing and focus of the film is too shallow. The film doesn’t stick with one time period long enough to go deeper than clichés about how troubled some gifted writers can be. Actually, I thought there were two good movies buried underneath all the rubble. This had the makings of a good film but it just doesn’t happen. This is definitely one to skip at the theaters and just watch at home once it hits VOD. For this reason, I give it a C- Rating.
Directed by Shawn Christensen
Written By Shaw Christensen, Jason Dolan
Selig Rating C-
Running Time 1 Hr 59 min
Drama / Mystery
Release Limited March 3rd AMC Grapevine Mills 30,
Starring: Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Lane
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.