Vanishing of Sidney Hall”
A high school kid named Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman) has a tramuatic
home life. His mother
(Michelle Monaghan) still resents getting pregnant so young that it
derailed her life. We never
quite know what's wrong with her husband, Sidney's Dad, but he seems
inhabitated by the 1,000-yard stare. Sidney
is solicitious with his Dad, but returns the lack of love from his Mom,
who's somehow simultaneouly possessive and dismissive.
Sidney is not popular at school.
He's an introverted kid who writes in his journals all the time.
He also has a wicked sense of impropriety; he'll write
intentionally seamy, steamy essays and read them aloud to his English
class, just to watch the shocked reaction.
There is one teacher who's impressed with his talent, and
encourages him to keep writing.
Sidney hasn't had much luck with girls, but all that changes with
the anonymous letter in his mailbox from Melody (Elle Fanning), who's
realized she's going to have to make the first move.
They fall hard for each other, pledging to run away together, and
to meet at their dream house on May 25th, the year they turn
old, that is, 30, whether they're together or not.
Yes, the flimsy, whimsical adolescent romance.
But the dark side touched Sidney's life, as well.
A kid he knew better than most committed suicide, and Sidney was so
moved that he wrote a whole book about it, called “Suburban Tragedy.”
It winds up being a huge success.
And then, almost predictably, Sidney becomes a victim in his own
The movie keeps jumping back and forth between time periods, but
eventually we can fashion a more linear narrative ourselves:
Sidney lives like a hobo, riding freight trains.
There's this mysterious Searcher (Kyle Chandler) who keeps looking
for him, but we're not sure why. We're
wondering what happened to Melody. And
while we're wondering that, we meet Sidney's agent (Nathan Lane), who has
this disturbing habit of conducting meetings in his office without any
pants. Don't worry, he's still
got his socks, shoes, shirt, tie, coat and boxers----just no pants.
Now that's a meeting you're not likely to forget anytime soon.
Though Sidney hasn't done much to generate our empathy, other than
being misunderstood, and loving a hound dog, still, we find ourselves
caring about what happens to him, and whether he can ever get over himself
long enough to find his way in the world.
Perhaps that's because it's perilously close to the personal
pilgrimage of anybody who ever tried putting words down on paper.