DEAR ELEANOR FILM REVIEW
Sometimes you run across an unusual film that winds up touching you in unexpected ways. The antics of Dear Eleanor don’t start out as motivational or interesting beyond the story being a fun time. As the story progresses, however, you begin to catch glimpses of its heart and the feelings driving the lead character, Ellie.
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As Dear Eleanor opens, we meet Ellie Potter (Liana Liberato), a young girl grieving the loss of her mother. Living in the ’60s, as she struggles with growing up, Ellie begins to take notice of politics. When she fixates on Eleanor Roosevelt as a way of keeping her mother close (her mother admired the first lady), her best friend, Maxine (Isabelle Fuhrman) writes a letter to Mrs. Roosevelt. Things become complicated when Max’s friend, Billy (Joel Courtney) replies as Mrs. Roosevelt.
Weary of raising her siblings with no assistance from her father (Luke Wilson), Ellie makes the rash decision to drive to Washington D.C.. With Max as her partner in crime, the girls expect to meet Mrs. Roosevelt at the end of the journey but what they don’t expect is the trouble that finds them along the way.
Aside from two excellent unknowns in the lead, Jessica Alba and Josh Lucas also appear as characters that Ellie and Max encounter on their journey. Though this may be a low budget film that underwent some casting changes in its preproduction, the acting suffers no ill effects. Everyone was quite good, and I especially enjoyed the relationships that build with each pairing. At the center is Ellie and Max’s friendship. A strong female friendship is a unique focus given the usual filmmaking norm, and it suits this one nicely.
Throughout the film, laughter is the primary emotion we experience. The zany scripting is out of the box unusual, especially when it comes to Max’s character. Her scripted tangents (which come across naturally because of the actress) and free spirit help to ensure the lighthearted nature of the film remains intact. Ellie’s journey is a little heartbreaking as she seeks to heal. Minimal though their roles were, I also love the impact and place the adults had on the lives of these girls. In fact, one of the most humorous scenes arrives when Alba’s Daisy must fake being the girl’s mother in order to get them out of trouble.
If you like vintage-esque films with a unique storyline, Dear Eleanor might be your cup of tea. The vintage ’60s appropriate clothing is pretty to look at and, of course, the girls take their road trip in style in their blue convertible. All of which gives this whimsical film a touch of nostalgia that’s sure to leave you with that feel-good emotion of yesteryear.
You can rent Dear Eleanor on Amazon Video or buy on DVD.
Content note: There are minor sexual innuendoes (the girls briefly discuss sex while acting out a scene with their Barbie’s). There may be a few instances of minor profanity. The film is rated PG-13.
Photos: Sony Pictures
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a
matter of chance.”