If the name Elle Fanning sounds familiar then you wouldn’t be the only one wondering the same thing. Yes, Dakota Fanning is her big sister. And, yes, much like her big sister, Elle is landing huge roles in top box office titles. You might recognize her as the girl who plays Sleeping Beauty in the movie Maleficent. In 2011, however, a movie hit the big screen that somewhat came and went without much fanfare. That movie was Super 8.
For today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday, I would like to talk about Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), the love interest to a young makeup artist Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney). In the movie Super 8, directed by J.J. Abrams, Alice becomes an actress in an amateur zombie movie shot by a group of friends from school.
More as an homage to the Steven Spielberg movies of the Seventies and early Eighties, J.J. Abrams captures the essence of the era by propelling the audience to a small Ohio town where a group of teenagers want to find out the truth behind the eerie events taking place all around them.
The tough, levelheaded Alice is one of those teenagers. With a dark past casting a large shadow over her friendship with Joe, she manages to befriend him, even if their families’ history together contains a tragic event to overcome.
The friendship eventually comes in handy when one evening a train derailment nearly kills the kids at the station they were using to film their latest scene for their new zombie movie. The event sparks the kids to pull together, as the event entails more than simply running away. In Alice’s case, since she’s the catalyst to the group’s curiosity, drive and action, she leads them to question the origin of the crash.
After the film’s first fifteen minutes unfolds, Alice displays the kind of courage only a true hero could possess. She presses everyone to think through the problems at hand and not jump to any conclusions before coming up with a solution. The train derailment was just the beginning.
But there’s also that soft, delicate side to Alice. In a scene reminiscent of many contemporary young adult romances of today, Joe preps Alice with zombie makeup, then watches her come to life as she lurches forward toward him with a blank stare and sullen eyes. Of course, Joe doesn’t move, but instead stands there with the curiosity of a squirrel wondering what will happen next.
In the end, there’s more to the movie Super 8 than anyone can imagine. Upon multiple viewings, countless Spielberg references surface to keep the viewer busy for a long time. In Alice’s case, she’s the perfect amalgam of a female hero and a vulnerable victim. Make no mistake, though, the vulnerable victim role doesn’t last long.
She’s too busy saving the world.
Have you seen Super 8? What did you like about Alice Dainard?