The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Supporting Actress Blogathon 2010: Ellen Wong in "Scott Pilgrim VS The World"

It's nearly impossible to single anyone out from the stellar ensemble in "Scott Pilgrim VS The World", especially when it comes to supporting actresses. Every single member of the cast adds so much to the overall movie that when thinking back on who shined the most, there's no real correct answer. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was the perfect fantasy girlfriend and allowed her shady past to shine through her indie exterior; Anna Kendrick was a bundle of adorableness as Scott's sister; Allison Pill delivered her lines with masterfully deadpan sardonicism, and when the true emotion breaks through it's utterly affecting; and Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza and Mae Whitman have some of the greatest moments in the film.

However, there is one actress in "Scott Pilgrim" who, in my opinion, does shine just a little bit brighter than the others, and that is Ellen Wong as the seventeen-year-old Knives Chau.

Knives is a student at a private, Catholic high school that the 23 year old title character Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) began dating some time after a messy breakup, much to the dismay of his friends, who want him to ditch what they call his "fake high school girlfriend" and move on. However, Scott dreads the thought of ditching the sweet and innocent little Knives and even
when he meets his dream girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) he can't break it off.

We first meet Knives at the very beginning of the movie, where she comes to one of Scott's band practices. From the get go, she completely geeks out about the band and her absolutely unflinching adoration of Scott is made perfectly clear. Throughout the first part of the film, we get an overview of her and Scott's relationship, which consists of dishing about high school drama and playing arcade games. In these scenes, Wong gives Knives an appropriate level of over-the-top immaturity and bubbliness without being annoying - making the audience instantly fall in love with her.

And that's why what I consider her best scene is so heartbreaking. Knives and Scott are doing their regular platonic activites - but this time, we know that Scott plans to break up with her. Knives begins to invite him over to dinner at her house, saying that she wants him to meet her parents. As he continually makes excuses, she keeps affirming her love for him, Wong making each line transform gradually from having a childlike infatuation to being more and more completely sincere. When she finally confesses that she is "in LOOOOOVE" we all feel terrible inside, knowing what is to come - and when Scott does finally deliver the news, Wong's reaction is so perfectly poignant.

However! All is not lost - Wong returns in later scenes as an embittered (but still totally lovable) Knives who wants revenge on Scott. She flirts with Scott's friend Neil, and dyes half of her hair blue in an attempt to counteract Ramona's dyed hair. However, behind this facade lies the Knives we all know and love. Her completely genuine reading of the line "I read your blog" to Brie Larson's character gives me chills.

Of course, it's that very last line that seals the deal. "Go ahead, I'm too cool for you anyway." Wong's delivery is absolutely pitch-perfect. The tiny tinge of sadness in her eyes, the reconciliation in her voice, and that absolutely irresistible smile all work together to make Knives's last words some of the most memorable in the film.

Though it may not seem like much, Knives is absolutely in no way an easy character to play. The energetic naivetee at the beginning of the movie could have totally come off clingy and annoying, and the character arc that she experiences throughout the film (from sweet high school girl, to vengeful ex, to total badass ninja girl, to an even more lovable and more mature young woman) could have completely fallen apart.

But, thanks to Ellen Wong's, it's impossible to see this movie and not feel love and sympathy for Knives, and for many people I know (including myself) she ends up leaving the biggest impression on the movie. She's endearing, funny, naive, and perfect - a fully fledged character out of what could have been a comic-book caricature. Wong's work may not get her anywhere remotely close to an Oscar nomination, but it's still an absolutely fantastic display of supporting actressing - and I sincerely hope that post "Scott Pilgrim", Ellen Wong gets some more opportunities to show the world what she's capable of.

This post is for StinkyLulu's awesome annual Supporting Actress Blogathon. Go check it out and see what other bloggers thought of the wealth of amazing supporting actresses this year!


  1. Wong is a delight, and even though my pick for best supporting female would go to Kendrick (odd, considering how much I loathed her in Up in the Air) this is a good pick. Wong's Knives is everything it should be - a nice comedic creation.

  2. I so didn't like the film other than the technical part. :) but Ellen and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were best in show when it came to acting. Hope she gets a nice career.

  3. She was probably my favorite person in the film, although I hated most of the rest of the film.

  4. Though I'm a Winstead fan and always find new things to love about her performance here, it *is* Wong that keeps me coming back. I feel that I *know* this girl; I remember sitting in the theater and hearing a row of girls behind me go "awww" at the break-up scene. Because only someone cold-hearted couldn't love Ellen Wong.

  5. Andrew: Oh, Kendrick is so lovely. I like her work here more than in "Up in the Air" as well. Haha! I only wish I could have written a post for every one of the female cast members.

    Alex: MEW was also great, we'll just have to see where Wong's career goes!

    James: Haha! Well I'm glad you liked Ellen because I definitely know you dislike the movie in general. ;)

    Walter: I too find something great about Winstead each time. I think that Ellen Wong is just so lovable though, it's impossible for her to not be my favorite...I probably could have been like that row of girls during the break up scene.


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