'Daphne' is the vibrant character portrait of a young woman on the threshold of a much-needed change.'Daphne' is the vibrant character portrait of a young woman on the threshold of a much-needed change.'Daphne' is the vibrant character portrait of a young woman on the threshold of a much-needed change.
Emily Beecham draws every last vestige of nuance that she can out of her starring role as the title character. Daphne is morose, and somewhat despondent, in her directionless candor. She eventually shows just enough real honestly to reveal at least part of the reason behind her jaded agitation. But what's funny is that she doesn't seem drastically different from other characters in her demeanor, even as the film works tirelessly to set her apart.
This is curious. There are very few shots that don't center on Daphne, and even as she's consistently going nowhere in her life, it's a good guess that at least least half the movie is her walking or taking transportation to one place or another, or no place at all. It feels like 'Daphne' has a message it wants to say, something profound, but it stops short of meaningfully doing so. Like the character it focuses on, the film mostly just seems to abide, without any particular rhyme or reason. Maybe I'm just not properly attuned to pick up on its subtleties, but I watch this with an open mind, and no expectations, and just feel flummoxed.
I think the most I can say is that I do recognize myself as a viewer in Daphne. Having myself struggled with depression for years, I gather the same questioning in Daphne's distant self-isolation of what she's doing with her life, or what it's all for. Beyond that smudged mirror, I admit I'm having a hard time finding especial value here. I feel bad even saying that, but I'm kind of at a loss.
It's well made in a technical sense. It's not outright bad. But I simply don't know what it is that this movie wants to be, any more than its protagonist knows what she wants to be. 'Daphne' is a film to watch for those viewers with extraordinary patience, who appreciate the most unglamorous and uneventful of character studies. For any more general audience - well, good luck, and maybe you'll discern something here that I missed.
- Jun 26, 2021