Monday, August 08, 2016

The Daughter

Ibsen is the world's second most performed playwright (after Shakespeare). Such is the NZ education system, that he could have been a tennis player or Harry Potter character for all I knew, until I was researching for this review. The Daughter is based on the Henrik Ibsen play: The Wild Duck.

Henry Neilson (Geoffrey Rush) owns the sawmill that is a small Australian town's main employer. He lives in a huge, country house, shoots duck, has servants and is aloof. He looks out of place in modern Australia, clearly a character from an old story. Despite his failing business (he is being forced into closing the sawmill) he is planning a grand wedding to Anna (Anna Torv) his beautiful and much younger fiancee (and ex-housekeeper). His son, Christian, arrives back from USA with an American accent on a rare trip home. He has a huge chip on his shoulder and an aim to cause trouble and get up almost everyone's nose. After an initial swipe at Anna he runs into Oliver, a school chum and from then on the two of them are almost inseparable. A parallel story line involves Oliver's teenage daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young - who also starred in Looking for Grace) and Oliver's dad (Sam Neill). Eventually Christian's destructive urge goes completely nuclear.

While some characters (especially Henry Neilson) don't fit in the 21st century and Christian seems almost unbelievably vindictive, the film is still effective. The acting is superb and the plot (particularly in the second half) is like watching a train wreck looking for somewhere to happen. I couldn't tell you how closely the film sticks to the original play but while it still looks like a film of a play it is a much better adaption than most play-to-film adaptions I've seen.

I've never seen Australia looking so wet and cold.

Ian's rating 4.5/5 Anne's rating 3/5

1 comment:

  1. I studied an Ibsen play (a Dolls'house) at school - perhaps it comes from sticking with English until the seventh form.