Sunday, February 5, 2017

THE DAUGHTER by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Daughter, a modern adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, is a powerful film by Australian writer and director Simon Stone that he originally wrote for the stage.  It centers around two families in a small town in Australia that relies on its timber mill for its existence,’
The owner of the timber mill, wealthy Henry Neilson (Geoffrey Rush), announces that he is closing the mill that has been in existence for more than 100 years.  No worries for Henry, but a catastrophe for the town and its people. 
Henry, whose wife committed suicide some years ago, is getting married to his former housekeeper, Anna (Anna Torv) a woman much younger than he.  Henry’s son Christian (Paul Schneider), who has lived for years in America, returns home to attend his father’s wedding.    Strapped with trouble in his own marriage and fighting an alcoholic problem, Christian does not appear happy until he runs into his long-time friend, Oliver (Ewen Leslie).
Christian finds himself spending most of his time with Oliver and his family, his wife Charlotte (Miranda Otto), their teen-age daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young), and Oliver’s father, Walter (Sam Neill), who once had a close relationship with Henry.  Christian sees his friend in a happy environment with a loving and devoted wife, a close relationship with a teenage daughter, and a very caring father. Walter even keeps a small refuge for wounded animals on the property, and, after discovering a wild duck that Henry shot and wounded, he adds it to the refuge.
In calls to his wife in America, Christian’s situation goes downhill, and he begins to imbibe more heavily.  He is resentful of his father’s marriage, and he becomes resentful of Oliver’s happiness.  The moments are tense as he seems destined to make trouble for everyone involved in his life.  Are his emotions bad enough to cause him to finally break down and reveal long held family secrets that he, unexpectedly, discovered, secrets that will affect the lives of both families?
The Daughter is an exceptional film that keeps one’s interest throughout its 96 minutes.  All of the actors give stirring performance, each giving reality to the production (including Wilson Moore as Hedvig’s boyfriend Adam).  Stone’s writing and direction are well-honed. 
The Daughter is playing at Laemmle’s Royal in West Los Angeles.  Not rated.

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