Director Megan Griffiths’ new film Sadie (2018) delivers an incredible look into the life of a 13-year-old girl who misses her father, a soldier deployed overseas for going on four years, and how she deals with life through her war-tinted lenses. Sadie (Sophia Mitri Schloss) lives with her mother, Rae (Melanie Lynskey), and next door to her best friend, Francis (Keith L. Williams), who she’ll protect at all costs.
Sadie is an impressive film that tackles some serious issues
Griffiths demonstrates tremendous skill in balancing some very complex tones and working with two very young, but very talented, actors. Sadie’s character has so much depth and is extremely human, but there is a hint of darkness. Scholss is able to deliver so much information about the character with a simple smile or the raising of an eyebrow. The film allows her to deliver the necessary information without feeling the need to explain what she is thinking. She is not only a kid in pain and constant fear of the fate of her father, but also in fear of how his absence will affect her family.
The film starts with a bit of good-natured comedy, as Rae’s friend Bradley (Tony Hale) shows up as Sadie is coming home. It’s clear early she’s not a fan of Bradley, but she is respectful enough to at least invite him in out of the cold to wait for her mother. The conversation is a great introduction to the world we are going to be a part of for the film. She’s intelligent, blunt, and not afraid of upsetting those who are threatening the ones she loves. However, Rae has no attraction to Bradley, so the threat doesn’t come from him, but instead it lies with the new neighbor, Cyrus (John Gallagher Jr.). As the film goes on, the humor slowly drains from Sadie, as she perceives the threat to her world to be growing and feels the need to take action.
The character development is impressive with even some of the smaller characters, like Francis’s grandfather and mother Carla (Danielle Brooks) feeling familiar by the end of the story. Griffiths manages to shape the world Sadie lives in so well that by the end, it was like you lived in the community with them all. There is no doubt that a major part of this is the incredible cast that is featured in the film. Lynskey continues to demonstrate why she should be recognized amongst the best actresses working today with her nuanced and emotional performance. Gallagher always seems to walk a tightrope of charming and yet distant. You often like him in his roles, but there is always an element about him you can’t quite place that makes you doubt his character’s motives. Schloss is an impressive young talent that I expect to see in many more films in the future. She’s extremely natural and is able to deliver big in this complex story.
Griffiths tackles some serious issues in this film. The impact of war on the families left at home and the exposure of violence to our youth both play heavily into elements of the story. Sadie’s shown to be extremely intelligent, but as a result also seems to be arrogant and over-confident. She seems to have a superiority complex that leads to some of her decision making to be negatively skewed. Griffiths doesn’t come across as preachy nor judgemental with her handling of the topics, but they are clearly on display.
There’s a lot more I’d love to say about this film, but it would be unfair to deprive anyone the experience because of spoilers. Sadie is definitely one to watch out for as soon as it gets distribution. Add it to your watchlist, and be ready for a heavy film that is an interesting look at issues we are currently dealing with today. Some of those may have landed all the heavier given our current social and political climate, but there are themes that will likely, and sadly, last the test of time. Sadie earns the Must See rating.