Sadie: Broken Rank, by Jeremy Elder
Megan Griffiths’ Sadie has many commendable qualities that set it up for potential Oscar nominations but none of these qualities manage to work together in a cohesive way. This is not to say the movie is a bust, but it seems to lack the polish that A-list indie films require. My best analogy for the film is that Megan Griffiths acquired all the pieces for an award-winning, captivating film, but did not put the puzzle in the right order.
Sadie gives us the story of a soldier’s daughter who works to sabotage her mother’s new relationship with another man (John Gallagher Jr.). The film lies somewhere between a coming-of-age film like Ladybird and a slow-burn thriller like Prisoners (and a bit of Home Alone comedic energy mixed in). It is a strange smorgasbord of genre that does not have the most satisfying end result. Perhaps committing to one tone would more effectively sell the film, but that is just speculation.
The film’s crowning achievement is the characters found on the page. To clarify, the characters are very well-written and thorough, but they lose some of their appeal once taken on by the actors of the film. The child talent of Sophia Mitri Schloss and Keith L. Williams radiates throughout the film but those roles are accompanied by moderate performances from the adult talent (with the exception of Veep’s Tony Hale, who thrives in his role as an introverted romantic). Audiences are initially drawn in by the unique world and characters that exist together in a small trailer park, but that feeling is slowly dulled down as the film continues on. Throughout the film, strong emotional scenes are connected by meandering plot and strange plot devices. The strangest plot point is the fact that the mother’s love interest is a complete deadbeat, and it is never made clear if we’re supposed to admire him for that or hate him. This showcases another unpolished piece of the film that takes away from the overall shine.
As I watched, I was searching for satisfying elements of the movie as a whole but they never really made themselves clear. It was a frustrating feeling, because I wanted to enjoy the movie, but something in the cohesion was holding me back. I can throw admiration to the cold cinematic style or innocent scenes between Sadie and her best friend, but these factors were shrouded in too much confusion to save the film. The film may come together better for other viewers but Sadie is far from the type of movie that jumps off the screen and demands your attention. This project was a big leap forward for Griffiths in her filmmaking career and I am definitely eager to see how she improves upon these errors in her future works.