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.
Second of two Australian cinema movie filmed adaptations of Henrik Ibsen's "The Wild Duck" stage play. The first was The Wild Duck (1984), which was updated to Tasmania in 1913, whilst the the second would be The Daughter (2015), where the setting was updated to modern contemporary times. See more »
When Hedvig returns the shotgun to the shed, the narrator says "She unlocks a safe and places the rifle inside". This is despite the fact that the narrator has referred to the gun as a 'shotgun' in all the previous scenes. See more »
A metaphorical collision between a single ray of truth and the lie that connects two families
Untangling the narrative thicket of The Daughter is not easy and the plot line is slow to unfold. It helps to take a step back and look at the story as a metaphorical collision between a single ray of truth and the lie that connects two families. It is only at this thematic level that we can understand why Henrik Ibsen's 1884 play The Wild Duck keeps reappearing on stage and screen. The Daughter is the latest re-imagining, with new characters and a modernised story that retains the glasshouse fragility of lives built upon secrets. It is timeless precisely because secrets are a part of life, yet some are so destructive that a few words can be a missile that shatters everything.
A gunshot is fired at the start and end of the film, and in between is a high-tension wire that is slowly pulled tighter and tighter until it snaps. When a timber mill closes in an unnamed Australian town disgruntled workers are laid off while the aloof and wealthy owner Henry plans to marry his much younger former housekeeper. His estranged son Oliver returns for the wedding looking for someone to blame for his mother's suicide. When Oliver learns of his father's previous infidelity he feels compelled to reveal all. Tensions explode when Oliver tells his best friend Christian, as the affair involved his wife and now affects the relationship with his daughter Hedvig. One revelation of a buried truth triggers a chain of events that nobody can control.
Although melodramatic and claustrophobic as family relationships can be, the story gathers pace in the second half, carried forward by outstanding acting from a stellar cast. It is beautifully photographed in Gothic style with haunting atmospherics amidst iconic landscapes reminiscent of The Piano (1993). Several overlapping scenes and restless camera viewpoints evoke the vulnerability of relationships teetering on lies. Often we are not sure who is the protagonist of the story as events unfold from various viewpoints but it is the daughter Hedvig who emerges as the innocent heroine tragically burdened by the sins of family. As she did in Looking for Grace (2015), Odessa Young plays the rebellious daughter and again her star shines brightly all over this film. Tense, challenging, and wonderfully crafted, this complex film mixes a psychological thriller with tragedy and its ending will leave you stunned.
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