"Ellie" brings to light some of the worst humanity has to offer. Drug addiction. Abuse. Loss of innocence and hope. All the dramatic elements of a feature length film, or three, rear their ugly heads in this seven minute production. We've all heard the type of story Tim Laubscher, who wrote and directed, is bringing us into. Seeing it however, is a totally different ballgame. Told from Ellie's point of view, we generally see things from her eyes. Her thoughts on a horrendous situation, as the film reveales the nature of her family dynamic. The drugs and physical abuse, and finally, the end and exit from one bad situation into another. You see reader, we also get a glimpse of the damage such a hard life can do to a child. Even worse? We are left to understand that for Ellie, there really is no light at the end of the tunnel. At least none visible. Before the credits roll she's within the foster system, and by the looks of things, no stranger to it. "Ellie" is her story. Her internal thoughts vocalized for all to see - and it really is hard to watch sometimes. What's even scarier is the seeming normality of these situations, in Ellie's eyes anyhow. It truly does make you ask what's worse - the abusive situations themselves? Or the fact they've become normalized by the victim(s)? Perhaps that's the scariest aspect of this entire film.
Technically, "Ellie" holds it's own with most films depicted in this particular style. Gritty and raw - like the story itself. Having perfectly crisp and composed shots would probably have taken something important away from the film. This is one of those instances where less than perfect... is perfect. I would have loved if a little more attention had been paid to the audio. Not the narration, rather the inserts of "real-world" line delivery. I know wind noise is hard to mask, especially when you don't have a trillion dollar audio set-up; but perhaps paying more attention to blending would have helped a lot. Have the audio fade in well before the actual part it's needed, would lessen the impact. Or, adding some kind of sound effect when the camera cuts to the scene. Usually does the trick. Generally writing however, these audio glitches only took place two or three times. Not really a bit deal all things considered.
However, here's where things got a little muddy for me. "Ellie" is a great story to tell. If nothing else, just to attempt to raise awareness for those who live in that perfect bubble of a world. For me however, the description... and even the poster itself is misleading. I found nothing truly hopeful about this film. There is no resolution. No real cause for any kind of hope. In some ways, Ellie herself is worse off than she started. You could definitely argue that point, but being in the foster system, and Ellie's own self described behavior, is a recipe for future disaster. The signals, both shown and perceived, all dictate Ellie will end up just like her mother. No resolution. No hope. Perhaps this film is better for showing us the way the world works. For those that don't already know. This is a movie however, and the "advertising" is very misleading. Perhaps it would be better marketed as a cautionary story, rather than a hopeful one?
In the end, one thing is for sure... this was an easy to watch, hard to watch kind of film. Easy in that it's put together well enough. The story is compelling enough to keep you hooked. Hard to watch simply because it's a sad story. No matter how you slice it, in my humble opinion, a well earned three stars.