1 September 2016 | david-rector-85092
Better on paper than on the screen. Disappointing.
On paper, 'The Daughter' has lots going for it: An adaptation of a successful theatre production which in itself is an adaptation of a classic Ibsen play; Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush; top notch local actors Miranda Otto, Ewen Leslie; and veteran Sam Neill. But i ultimately found this a disappointment; despite some strong ingredients. From the early scenes, there was a heavyness and at times overly self conscious style from both the director and the actors. I wondered how this was going to work.... Geoffrey Rush, one of Australia's finest actors was just too arch in this performance. The film may not have been made without his 'name', but the incredulity of the much younger women being so drawn to him was inescapable for me; that and a very stiff and unlikable character. Paul Schneider, so powerful in Jane Campion's 'Bright Star' was all at sea here. Inconsistent direction and a bizarre character arc made this wonderful American actor look out of place. Yes he was the outsider, but i didn't believe for a moment that he was Rush's son; nor a former best friend of Ewen Leslie's character.
The positives: The aforementioned Mr Leslie is building a great portfolio of stage and screen work, and despite those early 'ocker' moments, he developed his character and displayed much potency especially in the last act. Miranda Otto is always watchable but again credibility and some very pedestrian dialogue did not help this viewer much. As the title character, Odessa Young is a real find and definitely the saving grace for me with this film. An absolute natural; the youngest cast member was perhaps the only one to rise above the soap operatic material and direction to give a naturalistic performance. Her place in the industry seems assured after this and her other feature 'Looking For Grace'; proof that a star is born.
Maybe I just don't like soap dressed up as art or high drama; but this film didn't sit right with me. It felt like it had all been done before and done better! Shame, as there is lots of talent on screen, but an overdone, overly signposted tragedy, for me, needed to be done in a far more clever way - ala The Dressmaker.