Film Review – The Daughter (2015)

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Title – The Daughter (2015)

Director – Simon Stone (feature debut)

Cast – Odessa Young, Paul Schneider, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Ewen Leslie, Miranda Otto, Anna Torv

Plot – Arriving back to Australia to support his father Henry’s (Rush) new marriage, the lonely and internally tormented Christian (Schneider) unearths a potentially devastating secret that could threaten the very fabric of his one-time best friend’s Oliver (Leslie) and his young daughter Hedvig (Young) lives. 

“Everyone’s got a story like this, Oliver, it’s as old as the hills”

Review by Eddie on 22/11/2016

In the grand old tradition of Australian films of the past 10 – 15 years, young theatre director/actor turned feature filmmaker Simon Stone’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play that has here become The Daughter is a sombre, bleak and sometimes hugely impressive film that’s moments of greatness are sadly washed away by a tendency of over-dramatics and underdeveloped characters that hamper the films intentions to be the next big Australian drama kingpin.

Stone who had the fortune of gathering some of Australia’s best talent in the form of Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Miranda Otto as well as American actor Paul Schneider in the key role as the thankless Christian certainly had the tools at his disposal to create something special (something that he did from all reports on stage with this same story) but while The Daughter is a polished local production thanks in no small part of Andrew Commis’s noteworthy work as DOP and Mark Bradshaw’s effective score as well as the to be expected work of the experience cast, you can’t help but feel as though The Daughter doesn’t ring true in its most important moments and some players within this family drama barely get a chance to breathe in the 90 minute run time.

Christian may be our central figure here and his an unlikeable and tormented soul but relative newcomer Odessa Young gets the films biggest weight put upon her shoulders as the young and vulnerable Hedvig. Young’s performance is solid without being overly impressive but Hedvig as a fictional creation is somewhat unengaging and with an important part to play in the stories proceedings as Hedvig and her family have to deal with unearthed secrets, Young can’t bring the stories wannabe emotional payoff home despite the best attempts of those around her with a particularly disappointing final few minutes feeling rather underwhelming.

With supports from the aforementioned Neill, Rush and Otto, The Daughter is never allowed to fall down to any detrimental levels and while the shipped in Schneider doesn’t get great rewards from his Christian, Stone shows himself a director to watch out for with his handling of stars and the mostly unknown Ewen Leslie as the hard done by Oliver is another of The Daughter’s participants that will likely benefit from a starring role in this well received production.

Devoid of much light and frivolity, The Daughter is as glum as Australian films get and while this Home and Away with a budget is sometimes too much to bare or care, there’s enough impressive filmmaking going on here that Stone’s film is a worthwhile watch for all those seeking out their next dose of Australian drama, like only we Australian’s can make.

3 animal sanctuary’s out of 5

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