Thursday, 17 March 2016
MINI-REVIEW: THE DAUGHTER
A running motif in The Daughter is a lame duck, which is a bold move by debutante feature film director Simon Stone; a symbolic choice which he manages to avoid delivering on for two-thirds of the film's running time before an overwrought third act.
Adapting Henrik Ibsen's stage play The Wild Duck, which he has previously directed on the Sydney stage, Stone moves the drama from 19th century Norway to 21st century Australia and a frosty-looking small logging community, which is on its last legs just as the fiscally irresponsible proprietor (Geoffrey Rush) of the sawmill is to marry his second and much younger wife. It's this event which has brought estranged son, Christian (Paul Schneider), home and which stirs up a hornet's nest of secrets and lies, mostly involving Christian's former high school buddy (Ewen Leslie, best in show), his wife (Miranda Otto) and daughter, Hedwig (an impressive Odessa Young).
There's angst, alcoholism and daddy issues in this drama (also featuring a grizzled Sam Neill) that escapes its stage origins by embracing the outdoors, although there is still a lot of dialogue which Stone has attempted to circumvent by delivering some conversations as if almost telepathically (not quite Malick-like whispers, despite the visual cues cinematographer Andrew Commis takes from that reclusive director's recent outings). Overall, it's a solid debut for Stone.