What Lies West is an indie film from first time director Jessica Ellis, who also wrote the film. The film is a bit rough around the edges and features unknown actors. At the heart, it’s a tender story about a 16 year old girl who finds a way to independence.
What Lies West features Nicolette (Nicolette Kaye Ellis) and Chloe (Chloe Moore). Nicolette is a recent college grad with a degree in theater. Instead of heading for L.A. like her classmates, she decides to stay home for the summer.
Chloe is a sixteen year old who loves maps – she likes to make maps, she likes to look at maps. Her mother (Anna Peterson) is a fearful, anxiety-ridden, overprotective single mom. Mom hired Nicolette as a babysitter for Chloe for the summer.
Both Chloe and Nicolette have fears to overcome and need to emotionally separate from relationships. Chloe from her mom and Nicolette from her very bad boyfriend, Alex (Jack Vincenty).
Chloe has a plan for doing that. She doesn’t bother to tell Nicolette what it is, but drags her on longer and longer walks every day. When mom is scheduled to be out of town for 4 days, Chloe reveals that she intends to walk to the ocean. It’s 40 miles away.
Nicolette is forced to follow. They pack sleeping bags, granola bars, and one small canteen of water each.
They aren’t following a road to the ocean. Nope. They’re going to take nature trails. Chloe has a map all prepared.
The trek is a bonding experience for Nicolette and Chloe, but it’s also the emotional coming of age that both of them need. If they come out of it alive, they’ll both be stronger.
What Lies West is a different kind of coming of age story. Jessica Ellis shows promise as a writer and director with a unique point of view. It isn’t a great film, but it’s good enough to stick with all the way to the satisfying ending.
The film is streaming on Prime Video.