This year at SXSW a clear statement has been made that female directors will be widely represented within their film festival lineup. And despite many first-time filmmakers breaking through as a result, one such returning talent is Megan Griffiths who made her SXSW debut in 2012 with the Special Jury Award Winner, Eden. This time around Griffiths again provides one of the festival’s biggest highlights with her gripping new drama Sadie.
The 13 year old Sadie (Sophia Mitri Schloss) is being raised in a slummy small-town trailer park by her mother (Melanie Lynskey) while her personal hero and father is serving another tour overseas for the military. And while the marriage has become a loveless strain on her lonely mother, Sadie wishes for nothing more than a happy reunion between her two parents. Therefore, when Sadie’s mother begins dating a new neighbor (John Gallagher Jr.) from the trailer park, the teen channels her father’s tactical training and stops at nothing to put an end to their romantic affair.
Megan Griffiths’ hypnotic character study boasts exceptional performances, taut storytelling, and crisp direction. Youngster Sophia Mitri Schloss gives an unforgettable turn in her title role, one that stands among the finest by any lead actress at the festival. Her onscreen metamorphosis seems so innocent and harmless at first, until her actions continue to grow more and more alarming leading up to the film’s resounding conclusion. There’s no shortage of praise to go around as the entire ensemble shines brightly and Griffiths impressive filmmaking abilities somehow manage to be outdone by her multidimensional screenplay. The characters are deeply written and developed, the dialogue is full of creative wit and compelling drama, and the overarching story is simple in nature yet robust in emotion. In an era consumed by gaudy superhero fluff and mindless blockbusters, Sadie serves as a wonderful example of the profound and effective impact indie filmmaking can have on an audience.