Wow, this movie is ripe with pretentiousness! Despite a compelling title and interesting trailer, the only vanishing I experienced was my interest in the movie. Director Shawn Christensen decision to use multiple time lines greatly exaggerated the lack of character development and for a movie that promises mystery, that’s a damn shame.
The movie starts with a seemingly innocent teenager named Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman), who is reading his essay about a sex starved student’s fantasy about a cheerleader. The teacher, who had requested an essay about the meaning of life is shocked. We’re supposed to believe Sidney is an unrealized witty genius but instead comes across as an unlikeable jerk.
As the movie progresses, it’s believability becomes laughable. Sidney doesn’t seem like a genius but evidently he’s destined for bigger things because the movie says so. Apparently his gift of writing is so great that his teacher Duane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) pushes Sidney to write a book.
Christensen’s narrative decisions are strange and confusing. During one of the films misplaced timelines, Sidney is struggling with the success of his book and is dealing with the guilt of it’s negative influences on youth. It’s through this guilt that he spirals into a deep depression fueled by drugs and alcohol.
As the movie progresses, it constantly jumps backwards in time in an effort to paint a picture of the events that will lead to the films final conclusion. During one of the formative sequences, Sidney is on a date with a girl that he is smitten with. Melody (Elle Fanning) would serve as his muse and inspire him to write “Suburban Tragedy” Sidney’s masterpiece. After publishing his book that is this generation’s Catcher in the Rye, Sydney slowly crumbles apart while dealing with years of broken relationships and victimized by the death of a high school student.
What could have been an interesting story between two young kindred spirits, eventually ended up depressing the hell out of me with it’s nihilistic outlook.
Through Sidney’s life defining tragedies, the movie tried to develop a connection with the audience but honestly, nothing was believable. Ultimately, Christensen’s poor execution of time passages squandered any chance of developing depth to the story and it’s characters. Instead of taking the audience on a thoughtful journey, The Vanishing of Sidney Hall is nothing more than a manipulative film that lacks any purpose.
After publishing a bestselling novel based on the death of one of his high school classmates, the controversial writer Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman) finds himself catapulted to unexpected fame and renown. His relationship with his girlfriend (Elle Fanning) begins to fall apart as the dark consequences of the book intrude on their life together, and he disappears without a trace. Nearly a decade later, an enigmatic detective searches for the missing author, whose books are connected to a string of mysterious arsons.
Starring: Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, and Michelle Monaghan, with Nathan Lane and Kyle Chandler
Directed by: Shawn Christensen
Written by: Shawn Christensen & Jason Dolan