What Lies West | Chicago Reader
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What Lies West

Jessica Ellis’s debut feature is a sweet testament to friendship that feels like summer. What Lies West follows Nicolette (Nicolette Kaye Ellis), a recent college graduate trying to make it big as an actress. In an attempt to save up money—and failing to secure a promised summer job from her on-again off-again boyfriend—Nicolette picks up a job babysitting for the sheltered and lonely Chloe (Chloe Moore). The two couldn’t have less in common, which is exacerbated by their strained and minimal dialogue throughout much of the film, but they grow closer by taking longer and longer hikes together. Despite the wishes of Chloe’s neurotic and over-protective mother, Chloe and Nicolette go on an adventure that will make them understand each other and help conquer their own fears. What Lies West is incredibly tender, but its weakest elements take up too much bandwidth. The film may have been better off championing the spirit of adventure and the gorgeous woodlands that make it stand out rather than its less compelling interpersonal relationships and musings on Instagram influencing.

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