SHOULD I SEE IT?
Goes places you don’t want it to, but you simply cannot turn away from it.
Sophia Mitri Schloss is a young actress worth paying attention to and she commands the screen in Sadie.
By the time it concludes, Sadie is one of those movies that stays with you long after you are done watching it, making observations you may not completely grasp until you process what you have just seen.
Has a third act that I know has divided people.
Doesn’t give a lot of room to breathe and some may find it excessively bleak and lost in that darkness to try and be as profound as it wants to be.
Slow, deliberate, measured - the film may try the patience of people who like things to zip along much more efficiently.
There is a simmering dissonance between mom and daughter that somehow survives a number of intense and stressful situations in Megan Griffiths' new film Sadie.
In it, Rae (Melanie Lynskey) is a married, single mom to 13-year-old Sadie (Sophia Mitri Schloss), struggling to make ends meet in a sparse but cozy trailer park. Rae's husband is a perpetual soldier in the military, who takes tour after tour to, in the estimation of Rae, look like a hero to everyone while using that heroism to hide the fact that he is, in actuality, a deadbeat father.
With news of another deployment, Rae has had enough, but Sadie is anticipating that her father may nonetheless come home at any time. As a result, she becomes deeply resistant to Rae's interest in a new neighbor, Cyrus (John Gallagher, Jr.), who seems to reciprocate a liking to Sadie's mother.
Griffiths places us right in the middle of the community comings-and-goings. Rae's best friend, Carla (Danielle Brooks), has a son, Francis (Keith L. Williams), who is best friends with Sadie. Offering fold-up chair advice is Deak (Tee Dennard), an elderly man, who serves as something of a town crier and observer. Sadie's school principal (Tony Hale) also carries a keen interest in Rae, but also carries concerns over Sadie’s well-being amid a fractured home life.
We see how fragile the lives are within these homes and Cyrus' arrival almost instantly endangers the delicate, rather peaceful balance in place. As Rae feels her way around getting to know Cyrus, Sadie begins to simmer, then reach a boil, angry that her mother is beginning to move past the emptiness of her marriage and simply wanting to feel what it means to be loved again.
Griffiths' script is seething, and she has stated in interviews that she wanted to explore the impact violence has on today's youth. Largely left unsupervised, Sadie, the teenager, becomes something of a cautionary example of how kids can find and become invested in all kinds of subjects, topics, and information they may very well be ill-equipped to rationalize correctly.
Ultimately, Sadie travels through a story of emotionally vulnerable people simply trying to find a positive break. Eventually, all this tension is forced to come to a head and Sadie's final 10-15 minutes may polarize audiences. Emotional though it may be, Griffiths' decision, to take us further into a dark and desolate place thematically, makes the film something far different than we are likely anticipating.
With this performance, and a criminally underseen turn in last year's Lane 1974, Schloss is perhaps the best young actor working today that you have yet to see. In the title role, she carries a tinderbox of emotional vacancy and depth, believably maneuvering through those two extremes with the skill of an actor wise beyond her years.
Lynskey continues to create complex and believable characters no matter what she appears in. Together, Rae and Sadie create a family in disarray, though neither seems to know how to properly gauge just how fragile everything truly is.
While some elements of Griffiths' screenplay are not as sharp as others, one subplot in particular involving a decision Carla chooses to make feels unnecessary, Sadie works best when probing how perilous life can become for young people, largely left to their own devices.
It makes you wonder how many Sadies exist in the world right now, spiraling and struggling, but savvy enough to keep up appearances and not let anyone realize how hard things are. Griffiths might as well have strapped a ticking time bomb to Sadie’s chest, showing us that there is only so much opportunity to reverse a path leading to self-destruction beyond repair.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Sophia Mitri Schloss, Melanie Lynskey, John Gallagher, Jr., Danielle Brooks, Tony Hale, Keith L. Williams, Tee Dennard.
Director: Megan Griffiths
Written by: Megan Griffiths
Release Date: October 12, 2018