THE DAUGHTER


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You may dedect elements of “The Wild Duck” by Henrik Ibsen in this modern adaptation written and directed by Simon Stone. Poor Ibsen.

About the only character for whom one can feel something emotionally is the daughter of the title, Hedvig, played by pretty Odessa Young. It is difficult to feel much for the others, which makes the film a slog as it exposes the various relationships, leading to the big secret and what follows.

The setting is a rural logging town in New South Wales, Australia. Paul Schneider plays Christian, a sullen, egotistical, resentful son who stirs trouble when he returns after a 15-year absence for the wedding of his father, Henry, portrayed by Geoffrey Rush in one of his lesser acting accomplishments. Christian, with simmering father issues, is angry that Henry is marrying a much younger woman and for other reasons as well.

Christian has a long-time friend, Oliver, played by Ewen Leslie, and Christian becomes jealous of the relationship Oliver has with his wife, Charlotte (Miranda Otto). Also in the mix are their daughter, Hedvig, and Oliver’s father-in-law Walter (Sam Neill).

Christian becomes cruelly destructive as he vindictively exposes a family secret, with tragic results. The emotional turbulence unfolds against a background of a to-be-closed mill, owned by Henry and a mainstay of the community, a blow that will affect many lives.

If only one could care about the various characters, even the decent ones. Most offensive is Christian, who is so mean-spirited to the point of being villainous. As for Hedvig, we can at least feel deeply sympathetic for what she must endure in this misbegotten drama. A Kino Lorber release. Reviewed January 27, 2017.








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