After an overnight long-distance drive, Joby (Dano) has a special meeting - with lawyers and his ex-wife Claire (Margarita Levieva). A struggling musician with the prerequisite tattoos, slimy hair, goatee, and his head firmly floating in the clouds, Joby hasn't been around to be a dad. Now is his last chance to fight for shared custody of his daughter, Ellen (Shaylena Mandigo).
Joby's incessant drinking, chain-smoking and volatile temper (in his first on-screen meeting with ex-wife Claire, he aggressively degrades her as a "cunt") beggars the question as to just why we, as an audience, should care if he ever sees Ellen. Like so many young fathers, Joby is either too immature or emotionally unstable to be a competent, caring father, no matter how touching his eventually meeting with Ellen transpires to be.
Even at this crucial crossroads in the narrative, our protagonist visibly strains to conceal his frustration at his daughter’s understandably unresponsive demeanour. Whilst For Ellen shows moments of true potential, Kim falls some way short of delivering a memorable first feature, despite the best efforts of Dano and co. For now at least, this is one debut destined for the American indie also-ran pile.
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