Review of Sadie
By Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.
A predominant theme found in the narrative features (and many of the narrative shorts) at SXSW 2018 was that of broken families and abandoned, troubled kids. Sadie is a film that uses tragedy to analyze the consequences of a dysfunctional family experience imposed on kids.
Oddly, the film made me think of the old Haley Mill’s classic, The Parent Trap. In that story, twins use diabolical-yet-innocent tactics to scare away the new love interest of their divorced dad in the hope that they can reunite their parents. In Sadie, we have a teen who likewise takes action to keep her mother and father together. However, dad seems more interested in fighting in the Middle East than caring for his family. Nevertheless, Sadie ( is fiercely loyal to her dad and appalled that her mother (Melanie Lynskey) would consider cheating on him.
This film, be warned, is a tragedy on many levels. Elsewhere among these recent reviews, I take on the growing identity crisis among men—especially fathers—who in spite of their best efforts, cannot seem to connect with those they are called to love, protect, and serve. This film flips that desire, depicting a man who seems completely uninterested in keeping or restoring those familial connections. In either case, this balanced communion is generally missing among the assortment of male characters. The festival’s films do a great job in exploring this disability. In the case of Sadie, it is appropriately framed in a tragedy, as the teen takes matters into her own hands.
At one of the premiere screenings, an audience member asked a most insightful question of the young actress (Sophia Mitri Schloss) who plays Sadie: “Do you think she should be punished for what she has done?” After giving it some thought, she offered, “No. Because I think she has suffered enough.” This insightful exchange raises flags as more of our society’s children will surely continue to suffer from abandonment and abuse in the future. The question will arise: “Can we or will we hold them accountable for their actions when the parents are so easily blamed?”