The Daughter (2015)

  • Time: 96 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Simon Stone
  • Cast: Paul Schneider, Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie


Set in the last days of a dying logging town, Christian (Schneider) returns to his family home for his father Henry’s (Rush) wedding. Reconnecting with his childhood friend Oliver (Leslie) and Oliver’s family, wife Charlotte (Otto) and daughter Hedvig (Young), he unearths a long-buried secret. As he tries to right the wrongs of the past, his actions threaten to shatter the lives of those he left behind years before.

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  • Truth is often a minefield best left undisturbed. A quietly fatalistic and deeply affecting tale, The Daughter marks an auspicious feature film debut from actor and theater director Simon Stone.

    The Daughter, the film adaptation of Stone’s acclaimed stage adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, takes place in an unnamed Australian logging town that is facing another wave of unemployment following the announcement by wealthy mill owner Henry (Geoffrey Rush) that the current economy is forcing him to close down his own mill. One of his laborers, Oliver (Ewen Leslie), doesn’t let the bad news get in the way of his natural good cheer especially since his old childhood chum, Christian (Paul Schneider), has returned from the States to serve as best man for father Henry’s marriage to his much younger ex-housekeeper Anna (Anna Torv).

    Oliver and Christian fall back into their friendship with ease, but couldn’t be at more different places in their lives. Oliver is happily married and impossibly devoted to schoolteacher wife, Charlotte (Miranda Otto); completely adoring of their teenage daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young), who returns his adoration in equal measure; and a good and caring son to his absentminded father (Sam Neill), Henry’s former business partner. Christian, on the other hand, is back on the wagon and scrambling to mend fences with his wife. Blaming his father’s infidelities for causing his mother’s suicide all those years ago, there’s no doubt that Christian’s long-simmering resentment will soon come to a boil. So when he learns of a secret involving his father that could destroy Oliver’s family, Christian threatens to reveal it on the sanctimonious grounds that his friend “deserves to know the truth,” yet knowing full well that so many innocent lives could be collateral damage upon the secret’s detonation.

    The cast is uniformly excellent with Leslie, who makes Oliver’s decency so genuine that his suffering is all the more moving, and Young as the well-loved daughter severely unmoored by the revelations, making the strongest impressions. Cinematographer Andrew Commis contributes beautifully composed widescreen images (one of Christian approaching Charlotte by the river during the early dawn is especially remarkable) and editor Veronika Jenet crafts elegant time-shifting visuals and dialogue. It’s this intriguing presentation that elevates the soap opera leanings of the story to a brilliant observation of human behaviour.

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