Friday, 12 August 2016

REVIEW - THE DAUGHTER (SIMON STONE)


Soapy, stagey Aussie melodrama, unconvincingly adapted from Henrik Ibsen - ever an attractive choice for film dramatists, ever a daunting one for audiences. Transposing the three walls of the theatre to the middlebrow artist's impression of small-town Australia produces a distinct atmosphere of suburban ennui, flat attempts at angst and edge a la American Beauty. True, everyone hides their own personal trauma in reality as well, but therein lies the innate contradiction in this kind of drama: we hide it, and we generally do it well. We don't let it overwhelm us, as the characters in The Daughter do, and while the vague imprecision of reality may not appear as dramatically satisfying in concept, it has been proven far more so in practice. The Daughter would crumble under the weight of its sense of self-importance were it not built upon it as well as consumed by it. Early symbolism may have a gently savoury character, but it quickly turns sour as Simon Stone's heavy-handed approach signals every swerve in the plot progression long before it occurs, or at least opens the mind to every available possibility. The shocks don't stick, so at least the acting does. Practice has also proven the worth of Australian acting, and Ibsen's generosity to his performers; they're given much to work with here, and relish this deceptive opportunity. So essential is the cast's collective contribution to The Daughter that they could hardly claim to rescue it from the ignominy of its ineptitude in most other regards - they are the film, the only real reason to sit through it. Even still, you've seen this all before, and, like me, probably have little intention to see it all again.