More character study than sci-fi mystery, "Elmer's Saucer" is an intriguing and deliberate story with a fascinating premise and compelling characters. Elmer himself is the key to making this story work. He soon displays a personality that endearingly blends the eccentric and the poignant. Still mourning his wife's death, we feel for him, and he's grounded enough that we can accept whatever he claims he sees. This is James's story as well, and he has an engaging arc of his own. We get a sense of the brothers' complicated relationship even when they're not on screen together. Other supporting characters, such as Dr. Judith and Jebediah, are also allowed to contribute and offer support and wisdom of their own. What eventually emerges from this possible extraterrestrial sighting is a complex tapestry of family, community, loss, and hope, and it's been worth watching.
The twist involving Olivia and Dr. Judith Arnold is bizarre and underdeveloped. There is a lot to take in here, but the script ends shortly after, without providing real catharsis or closure, or even just a proper amount of time for us to process this jarring revelation and to reexamine previous events and scenes knowing what we know now. Elmer is a complex and poignant enough character when presented as we first see him, and his relationship with Judith, when we're all on the same page, compels. The ambiguity and unanswered questions about "Olivia" lead into the final scene, when for some reason James shouts that name at the still unexplained flying saucers. We don't need at the answers here, and the fantastical appearance of the saucers at the end is powerful on its own terms.Yet there are certain plot elements that could be smoothed out or reconsidered for a more accessible story overall.
"Elmer's Saucer" has a number of appealing hooks, including it's fantastical premise and its grounded characters. Elements seem almost Spielbergian, which is high praise. The audience may be divided by the ending, but they would talk about it.
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