The Daughter is a drama about a few days in the lives of two Australian families living in a rural timber mill town. The mill owner is taking a new wife just as he announces the closure of the mill. His son Christian flies in from the US for the wedding and reconnects with his childhood friend, Oliver. Oliver, a mill worker, lives with his wife, child and his decrepit father. An uncovered secret threatens to shatter the lives of everyone.
The themes are of honesty and family connection as the story, immediately sincere with plenty of light moments, slowly builds into deadly seriousness.
With pervasive and ominous masculine anger and alcoholism, The Daughter is a note-perfect portrayal of Australian small town life. Everyone makes mistakes and they can have devastating consequences for others. Damaged people are dangerous.
The storytelling is masterful, a huge credit to writer, director Simon Stone and to Andrew Commis' creative cinematography. The editing is exquisite, courtesy of Veronika Jenet (The Piano, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Strangerland, Black Balloon, Angel At My Table, Snowtown).
There are half a dozen great characters and the ensemble acting brings out the very best in both Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neill. Miranda Otto is magnificent. American Paul Schneider evokes the danger of the damaged man as does Aussie TV actor, Ewen Leslie as his long-lost mate.
Young Odessa Young as Hedvig is the central character. She ably commands everyone's attention and seems bound for stardom.
The Daughter is alternately poignant and powerful; a life-and-death drama, free of any suggestion of the theatricality of the play that inspired it, Henrik Ibsen's, The Wild Duck.
This is daring, fierce, and rewarding cinema; as good as it gets. A must see. 5 stars
Andrew Bunney, Let's Go To The Pictures, Three D Radio, Adelaide