The Vanishing of Sidney Hall is a classic example of how everything can go wrong in a film. The film follows Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman), a genius-level novelist over the span of a number of years, as the film jumps between three timelines. In the earliest, he is a kid in high school trying to romance his Manic Pixie Dream Neighbor Melody (Elle Fanning). Then, some years later, he is an acclaimed novelist, with his first book on the short list for a Pulitzer after spending a long time atop the bestseller lists. And later on, we meet an unnamed character (Kyle Chandler), searching for someone he believes to be the now reclusive Sidney Hall.
To be blunt about it, the film reminds me of something written by a teenager. Trying desperately to be moving, shocking, and brilliant by insisting it is rather than by demonstration. This might be the most trite film I’ve ever seen, because most films that troll in this kind of sentiment are at least more earnest about that sentiment. Sidney Hall feels like a strange morality play because none of its characters remotely resemble human beings. None of the decisions make any sense, and their reactions are either off the handle dramatic or completely placid. Some of these choices are in service of protecting twists that come later in the film, but the structure just gets in the way of the story.
Rather than just pile on with potentially hyperbolic insults, I am just going to say that this will likely be one of the worst films of the year. Even The Circle was at least entertaining in its badness.
The Vanishing of Sidney Hall opens in Philly theaters today.
Author: Ryan Silberstein
Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights
as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.