Well it’s that time of year again; we’re in the middle of the (American) summer movie release apex, just coming down from the tidal wave that was Suicide Squad, Sausage Party and the fresh arrival The Shallows. So naturally this makes you wonder “Gee, with all these movies coming out am I missing anything?” and naturally in this over-saturated-with-entertainment world we live in, of course you are. With a slew of releases making their way to home video (that’s right I still call it that), there’s plenty to see outside of the cinema in the next few weeks. One such film is Fathers & Daughters, a picture with an emotional theme that will resonate with anyone who felt let down by Suicide Squad. Loss is hard to deal with, and losing consistently is even harder (I still believe in you DC, don’t you listen to those nasty children). And it would be remiss of me to not tell you to see Fathers & Daughters, if you can see it at all through the teary eyes it might give you. Okay, I’ve got my Kleenex and daddy issues, let’s do this people.
Russell Crowe reads his daughter the children’s classic ‘Romper Stomper’
Fathers & Daughters is directed by Gabriele Muccino, and stars Russell Crowe as award winning author Jake Davis and father to young daughter Katie. Mmkay? Mmkay. Katie is played by two impressive actresses in this film; the younger by Kylie Rogers and the older by Amanda Seyfried, both of whom are endlessly watchable. The story follows (more or less) the life of Katie, her relationship with her father, and her relationships today. Sounds dull, I’m sure. However, like many good dramas with heart and real staying power Fathers & Daughters bounces back and forth seamlessly between ‘then’ and ‘now’; letting you feel the story rather than just see it. Aside from being a fan of dramatic and emotional movies myself, I was hooked by the opening of this film; fast, effective and immediately deep. This opening lets you know the building blocks of not only this story, but of the deep and tumultuous journey these characters are about to go through, all of which happens in a matter of minutes, which is something many, MANY recent releases have seemingly forgotten how to do. This film reminded me of dramas I had grown up seeing; Fried Green Tomatoes (and the whistle stop café), How To Make An American Quilt, Good Will Hunting, August Rush, and more. That was the good stuff; the stuff that made you cry, that made you think about family, life, love, and how everybody copes with something differently, and sometimes destructively. This film has all of that and more, backed by restrained filmmaking that really puts the content in the foreground without pushing for style over substance.
Aaron reminds Amanda why Regina George is ‘so fetch’.
Among many of the things Fathers & Daughters does right is characters, and boy are these some well-cast characters. Special mention goes to Aaron Paul (also in this movie), who plays the ‘decent guy that our gal with problems meets and subsequently learns how to love again yadda yadda’. All joking aside, Paul is particularly good in this performance that straight up defies the ‘Jesse Pinkman’ typecast he has looming over him. Way to Dead Poets Society us, Aaron Paul. It goes without saying that every lead performance is impressive; from Russel Crowe as the flawed but absolutely doting father, to Amanda Seyfried as the older and slightly lost Katie, and back again to the so-cute-it-makes-your-Grinchy-heart-grow performance by Kylie Rogers as young Katie. The bond between these two is so palpable you could cut it with a ‘parenting 101’ knife; the love this father/daughter pair show for each other leaps into you, whether you are a father, a daughter, or the family dog. Hell, I’m not a father and I wanted to turn to my non-existent daughter and tell her how much I love her. Then I remembered that everything is a lie and we’re all living in a dream and it’s time to take my meds again.
“One day I’m going to be in a musical with Wolverine and Superman’s Dad…”
The defining issue of this film is psychology. Namely the psychology of loss; how it impacts us and how we deal with it. This is seen all around the film; (SPOILERS!!! – NOT REALLY THOUGH BECAUSE IT’S THE SETUP OF THE MOVIE) from how Jake deals with the loss of his wife (and mother to Katie), to how Katie herself is impacted by the loss of her mother, and how Katie is later impacted upon again as an adult by later events. This branches beyond our two main characters, stemming out into the supporting cast: including Katie’s alcoholic aunt, and even Katie’s own profession as a youth counselor and psychology major. As you can see, psychology is the big cheese of Fathers & Daughters and thankfully it is a finely aged cheddar. Stretching across the film in a multitude of interconnecting ways, there are so many relatable feelings, events, and images throughout this film. And if they aren’t relatable now, give it time. They will be.
While a little predictable (but that’s a flaw in dramatic cinema in general), Fathers & Daughters is a moving, soulful film that will hit the right notes for those interested in seeing a meaningful and effective drama. It’s funny, charming, and a little heartbreaking. But what good drama isn’t? Take a look at this film, you won’t just find a good movie, but a thoughtful look at how we as people deal with our most important human traits: emotion, will, and love.
Fathers & Daughters is available on DVD on the 24th of August, for more details check the Entertainment One website.
For more tear-jerkingly good reviews, stick with Pixel Pop Network *sob*.
SUMMARY: An emotional film that will touch the heart of anyone looking for a good drama. A little predictable (as most dramas are) Fathers & Daughters takes this in its stride and delivers a well written and well acted film that inspects the cause and effect of psychological conditions and the unerring power of the human spirit. Highly recommended for those looking for a deep and potent dramatic picture.