• Review: The Daughter (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jan 25 14:21:35 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: With this Australian production, stage director
    Simon Stone directs his first feature film, adapting his
    own modernization and re-imagining of Henrik Ibsen's
    "The Wild Duck." The story is of a man who returns to
    his home to find the key to many locked family secrets.
    The story might easily have settled into melodrama,
    but it manages to keep its head above water. Geoffrey
    Rush, Sam Neill, and Miranda Otto star. Rating:
    low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

    Just in case there was any question of what story is being told, we
    see a wild duck being shot and injured in the first shots of the
    film. Writer/director Simon Stone is updating Henrik Ibsen's 1884
    play, "The Wild Duck." One of the essential weaknesses of the film
    is that in updating the original Stone had to create too many
    characters for the viewer to keep straight. Watching the film I
    felt I could have used a list of characters to keep them all
    straight and to help sort their relationships. Stone has made a
    film that is harder to follow than the original play it was based

    An Australian town--never named--lives in the shadow of one man.
    The town lives or dies under the control of Henry Nielsen (played
    by Geoffrey Rush) who owns the lumber mill that has been the
    lifeblood of the town. Just at the moment the mill and the town
    are both dying. The mill has lost its last contract and most of
    the town has been laid off. Particularly in Henry's shadow is
    Walter Finch (Sam Neill) who used to be Henry's partner and who
    went to prison for shady dealing with Henry but for which Henry
    went unpunished. To contrast his character from that of Henry,
    Walter maintains a little sanctuary to nurse animals, including the
    wild duck, back to life.

    It is a moment of mixed emotion as Henry is soon to be married to
    Anna (Anna Tov) his former housekeeper, young enough to be his
    daughter. Henry's son Christian (Paul Schneider) is returning home
    from America to attend the wedding. Shocking secrets are about to
    be revealed. I will not reveal who the real villain is, but of
    course this is an adaptation of a play by Henrik Ibsen.

    In the hands of a director who knew less about how to stage dialog
    this would have been a bit talky and feel like a lot of soap opera
    melodrama. Stone takes what could have been taken as exaggeration
    and leaves it with a realistic feel.

    It is not clear why Stone chose to rename this work the nondescript
    THE DAUGHTER. One would think that among the film's intended
    audience there would be more marquee value in using the original
    classic and familiar title. I rate THE DAUGHTER a low +2 on the -4
    to +4 scale or 7/10. THE DAUGHTER will get its wide release
    January 27 of this year.

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    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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