Sadie debuted at the 2018 South by Southwest Film Festival to positive reviews and makes its way to theaters this weekend.
The film follows Sadie, a girl who lives with her mother because her father is a soldier serving overseas. When her mother begins to date a new man, Sadie decides to “protect” her father at any costs by trying to prevent her mother from having a love life.
This movie certainly needs to be praised for its ambition and creativity. The story is unique and crazy, truly unlike anything to have been seen before. It also has some lofty goals, handling topics that are taboo or just difficult to address. Sometimes, this ambition pays off. Other times, it seems to fall a bit flat.
Ultimately, the movie works far better as a character study than a plot-driven or thematic film, though it seems to want to be a bit of each. The protagonist is indeed sympathetic, although there is a shroud of ambiguity surrounding her. The filmmaker deliberately allows her to be mysterious, aiming to cause the audience to ask questions. Additionally, many of the secondary characters are well-developed
The first hour or so of the film is strong. This part is successful because it embraces the character drama without being melodramatic. In the last thirty minutes of the movie, the story goes over-the-top and somewhat melodramatic territory, impacting the realism that was created in the first two acts. Whereas the first two acts were gritty and emotional, the third act was just unsettling.
Additionally, though the film does provide some interesting commentary on its themes, it is somewhat inconsistent in so doing. There are scenes in which the dialogue feels too awkward and unnatural for it to be successful in its goals. Additionally, there were a few moments in which the movie introduced metaphors or symbols that didn’t end up being fully developed.
That being said, the film has quite a bit of technical merit. The cinematography is great. The visual style is very subdued, with lots of cold and muted colors being used to complement the emotions in the script. The soundtrack and score are perfect too, adding to the movie’s tone.
The ensemble is also very worthy of praise. The lead actress, Sophia Mitri Schloss, is very talented for someone so young. She does a good job of capturing the nuances of the role. Melanie Lynskey, who plays Sadie’s mother, is excellent, too. She and Schloss have good chemistry together. The cast is rounded out by strong supporting turns by actors including John Gallagher Jr. and Tony Hale.
Overall, Sadie was an interesting and ambitious film. Although not all of it landed as well as it wanted to, the character development is great and the execution is solid. It is definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.
Sadie opens in select theaters beginning October 12.