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“The Vanishing of Sidney Hall” a Brilliant Drama

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by John Delia, Sr.

There’s a cool drama opening up in your neighborhood and it’s brilliantly written, directed and acted. The movie takes some twists, it has mystery, romance, drama and a stunning finale. The Vanishing of Sidney Hall should have a wide audience appeal from 20’s to 50’s.

Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman) has a deep seeded imagination and writes his high school essays with prurient content that doesn’t go over well with his English teacher, thus earning him a bad grade. Following a bad day, he visits Professor Brad Jones’s (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) office. He’s an English teacher and the school newspaper sponsor. He understands Sidney from the many articles he has written, but cannot publish due to their content. After a chat with intention of helping him get his confidence back, Sidney leaves his Jones’s office reasonably placated and with an idea for a book.

Jump to a few years later and we find Sidney getting interviewed by a television station about the success of his recent book that has been published. He has become a celebrity to millions of young adults. Young people flock around him to get autographs and cheer him for his success.

Flash forward again several years and a detective (Kyle Chandler) has been tracking down a person who has been starting fires in local libraries across the country. He’s intent on finding the firebug and seems to be on a wild goose chase even though he’s convinced its Sidney. Sidney has become a recluse and seems to be on the run from something.

Logan Lerman as Sidney Hall and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Professor Brand Jones

Throughout the film we watch as each age level gets played out leaving the audience hanging on major points until they all make sense in the end. As a teen his mother thinks he’s never going to make anything out of himself, a girl named Melody (Elle Fanning) comes into his life and a fellow student needs his help. His book and marriage come into play during his 20’s. His 30’s play out while dealing with a kindred spirit.

Elle Fanning as Melody

Director and co-screenwriter Shawn Christensen takes us on Sidney’s journey through life showing his desires, flaws and aspirations developing throughout. His supporting actors develop interesting characters some resilient and others weak, but each are the stepping stones in Sidney’s life. His direction is flawless and his editor right up there with the best.

Michelle Monaghan as Mrs Hall

As the upstart writer Logan Lerman looks the part and shows his ability to create the youngster through adulthood. Sidney’s impetuous, submissive and emotional and Lerman shows him in each, whether it’s with his girlfriend Melody or pushing his book or running away from something. As the central character here he ups his value from the Percy Jackson days and comes up a winner.

In support Michelle Monaghan puts together a domineering mother as Mrs. Hall. She can’t seem to come to grips with Sidney’s life and tries to sink him every chance she can get. Even looking into his private space and things, you would almost think she’s jealous of his success or guilty of something that happened in the past between them. It’s a much needed character to legitimize Sidney’s offbeat imagination.

The Vanishing of Sidney Hall has been rated R by the MPAA for language and some sexual references. There’s also a scene of parental abuse that looks very realistic.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A well-crafted movie with a brilliant cast, direction and storyline. (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information
Cast: Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, and Michelle Monaghan, with Nathan Lane and Kyle Chandler
Directed and co-writer screenplay by: Shawn Christensen
Genre: Drama, Mystery
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual references
Running Time: 1 hr. 57 min.
Release Date: March 2, 2018
Distributed by: A24 Films

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