Elodie: Review

Elodie: Review

By Nasu Nguyen.

Following an embarrassing public performance, actress and playwright Sabrina Stone is led into the world of her own writing by Elodie, one of her fictional characters. With fiction now a reality, Sabrina must navigate the dark and moody landscape she created, save her characters from the problems she gave them, and come to terms with the person she wants to be. 

This is an interesting idea to explore. The tortured artist enamored with creating their best work but internally fixated by how the audience would perceive it, leading to a psychological spiral of self-doubt. Unfortunately, Elodie fails to develop its themes any deeper than a 12th grader who publicly got rejected by their crush when asking them out to prom during the annual high school talent show. 



This was written, edited and directed by Daniel Ziegler, who was inspired to make this story based on his personal experience with his first feature film, making Elodie a meta piece of his work. He has a clear vision and is very talented for a young filmmaker, which is why it brings me ambivalence to say that this film disappointed me on several aspects that a bigger budget couldn’t have rectified. 

First and foremost, Elodie suffers from feeling too much like a student film. There is a caveat when it comes to criticizing student films because I know that they are not up to the standards of a typical Hollywood movie. Usually the production crew is way smaller, the video shots look way cheaper and everyone involved simply doesn’t have enough professional experience. These are crucial elements that deflate the entire film. There are technical choices made in this film that would never be experimented in a more professional film. There is usually a common trope in student films where students would try to make strange and unconventional techniques in a film and claim that they were intentional because it was “experimental” and “avant garde”, when in reality they just wanted to show off the style without serving a purpose. Ziegler would sometimes choose to break the 180-degree rule, record a chunk of the film in ADR, or have jarring quick whips that just takes me out of experience.

It does not help that most of the actors have the emotional range of a wet cardboard. Nearly all of the characters sound like they’re reading their lines on auto-pilot. It’s clear that some of these actors are more inexperienced as they could not deliver any sense of feeling to their characters, rendering them hollow and listless. As a result, it becomes difficult to find any attachment. Faith Decker has the best performance as Sabrina, who does an acceptable job of capturing her character’s vulnerability, but even then she has room for improvement. 

Most of the film takes place in this world that Sabrina created, which can be exciting to examine especially from a surrealist perspective. However, Sabrina’s play in this film is so insipid and dull that it doesn’t achieve the adventure it’s going for. The entire point is that the play was not supposed to be good but there could have been more creative ways to incorporate the visual embodiment of the play that connects to the growth of our main playwright. I felt that Ziegler could have achieved much more exploration in his themes of failure and when he does try to tackle those ideas, it gets too on-the-nose. The entire plot of Sabrina’s play revolves around this MacGuffin that feels tonally off with the noir setting, and when reality intertwines with fantasy, characters take implausible risks that elicits cheap shock value. 

What the film does successfully is create a sense of style. There were a few scenes that utilized neon lighting to create a very atmospheric aesthetic as if it was straight out of a neo-noir. Then as we enter the world that Sabrina created, it turns into a classic noir thriller with a black and white filter. Logan Fetters serves as the director of photography and his ability to craft these gorgeous shots of each character was a huge highlight in the film. Fetters understands how to work the camera and create many artistic visuals. Though the world of the play isn’t as special as I imagined, there were many scenes that striked a certain mood. 

The main problem with Elodie is the writing. The conversations between characters felt very awkward and I never cared for any of them. Even though a lot of attention is given to the character of Elodie, she was nothing more than a photogenic figure. Ziegler had a lot of potential to build on the relationship between Sabrina and the rest of the characters in the film. Instead, he only touches the surface and settles for cheesy melodrama only accentuated by an overbearing piano score. Once again, I like the idea that Elodie tries to present; internalizing one’s insecurities of failing to appease audiences with their creative work. This film doesn’t successfully handle this idea with much gravitas and by the time we get to the end, it never feels earned because there was too little development. Ziegler has an interesting premise to work with, it just needed a few more drafts to really fledge out the story and characters. Nevertheless, he still has great potential as a filmmaker. 

Elodie showcases some impressive aesthetical compositions but is ultimately bogged down by an underwritten story whose themes fail to come into fruition, along with weak performances that lack the energy to galvanize the narrative. 


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Nasu blossomed a passion for the art of film ever since he was involved with the media arts pathway at his high school. He started to gain an utmost respect for the medium of filmmaking.

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