Film Review – Fathers and Daughters is Like Having a Bird Shit On Your Head

Fathers and Daughters, from Gabriele Muccino, the director of Seven Pounds and The Pursuit of Happyness, is filled with the kind of over the top melodrama that’s normally used to create sympathy with an action hero before he goes on a bloody killing spree. Here, we’re meant to be moved when an arguing couple have a slo-mo exposition laden car crash in the film’s first five minutes.

Fathers and Daughters - HeadStuff.org
Fathers and Daughters is in cinemas Friday 13th November

Half the plot takes place in late 80’s New York as Jake Davis (Russell Crowe), an author who dresses like Garth Marenghi, struggles to care for his daughter, Katie, because he has seizures. The other half takes place in the present day as Katie has grown up to be a psychology student played by Amanda Seyfried. She has problems loving and letting anyone in. We know this because she says it and sleeps around a lot until Aaron Paul’s Cameron turns up.

I’m about to ‘spoil’ this film in the same way I would ‘spoil’ the twist that a bird was going to shit on your head. It ends with the reveal that Russell Crowe’s character (a character that is dead in the present) is dying in the past. The present timeline ends with Katie asking to be taken back by Cameron after an attempt by her to sabotage their relationship. She finds him on her doorstop and they hug. Roll Credits. Queue high fives from the people that made this and swearing from the audience. It takes 2 hours to reveal a dead man is dead and show a couple having a totally unearned, predictable, and easy reunion.

This could just about work (maybe) in a better film but this isn’t a better film. It feels like being made watch a John Lewis ad for eight hours except it isn’t as good as that.

The movie, while gliding along on syrupy autopilot also makes some weird assumptions. For example, it seems to take as given that having seizures means you can’t raise children. Half the runtime is devoted to a woman who’s emotional distance is conflated with her sleeping around until she’s cured by getting all teary and begging a man to come back to her.

Fathers and Daughters - HeadStuff.org
Hack Promotional Poster Design Mode Enabled

You get the sense the filmmakers didn’t think about any of this or think about anything else other than how to manipulate you in the most overwrought, hacky way possible. Every single decision they make seems made by someone who has seen movies rather than by a thinking human who has lived with other people. How do we show he’s a loving father? Well, in movies, Dads frolic with their kids and teach them to ride bikes. That’s what happens here. How do couples argue? Well in movies it’s kinda like a courtroom drama; one chips away at the other until they break and blurt out something emotional. Women in this universe cover their breasts while bathing alone while lawyers chomp cigars in palace-like offices.

To top it off, this thing has a great, squandered, cast. Jane Fonda, Quevenzhané Wallis and Diane Kruger all play supporting roles. It’s like watching a mammy’s boy burn a steak. Most come out with their dignity intact. Crowe’s performance, though, gives the impression of a man who thinks that faking seizures in a dull film is important, actorly business and suitable Oscar bait.

This is braindead, self serious and without any sense of fun, wit or being rooted in reality. It is meant to make us feel something but, in the end, it’s like a kiss from a Stepford Wife.

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Fathers and Daughters is i cinemas Friday 13th November. Check out the trailer below.

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Featured image credit: flickeringmyth.com

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