Fathers & Daughters
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Writer: Brad Desch
Cast: Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Diane Kruger, Quvenzhané Wallis, Bruce Greenwood, Janet McTeer, Kylie Rogers, Jane Fonda, Octavia Spencer
Seen on: 17.6.2016
Jake Davis (Russell Crowe) is an award-winning writer with a lovely daughter, Katie (Kylie Rogers). But after his wife dies, he falls apart. While he tries to get better in a psychiatric facility, Katie goes to live with her aunt Elizabeth (Diane Kruger) and uncle William (Bruce Greenwood). Even after Jake returns, things are far from easy.
Many years later, Katie (Amanda Seyfried) works as a counselor for kids like Lucy (Quvenzhané Wallis), even though she obviously has many issues of her own. When she meets Cameron (Aaron Paul), those issues might destroy everything.
I had little to no expectations regarding Fathers & Daughters, but I was still taken aback by it. It is perfectly obvious why this move tanked as much as it did. It probably should have tanked more.
Fathers & Daughters is a film that seems to be written by somebody who once took an interest in psychology, read a couple of popular science books on the issue and thought that this was the perfect qualification to make a film that examines daddy issues and the psyche of a young girl and – by using the plural of Father and Daughter in the title – seems to believe to speak for every father/daughter relationship out there. While it doesn’t get everything wrong regarding Katie’s psychology, it’s a job done by a hack – and that makes itself felt in every minute of the film.
Okay, so, Katie has some open issues regarding her father is quickly clear. The extent of these issues seem a little overblown with regards to what happened, but fine, sometimes people react more strongly than you’d think to stuff. It’s their prerogative. That casual sex is very much pathologized in that set-up didn’t sit right with me, though. And then the white knight on his steed comes, ready to save Katie by loving her unconditionally and being just enough like her father to be creepy. (Seriously.) (Also, Katie is lucky that she is really very pretty because otherwise I doubt that even Cameron would have put up with her for as long as he did.) [This also echoes Katie’s white-savioring of Lucy who is just enough like she was when she was younger for very strong transference – only in the wrong direction.]
That Katie is a social worker/counselor/therapist only makes things worse. I mean, it’s not uncommon that people with a personal history in that area also have the wish to start to work in the field, but for that to be a successful (and then often very productive) endeavor, you have to have worked out your own history first. Katie obviously hasn’t. She knows that. Her superior (Octavia Spencer) knows it. And nobody cares. They let her work with kids who probably need a grounded therapist more than anybody else. Maybe I’m being naive, but that lack of professionalism really doesn’t seem right to me. And I do know about this field, at least a bit – which is probably why the film felt like one slap after the other in that regard, even when it sometimes does get things right.
With all of this going on, it’s probably not surprising that the film really stood no chance to appeal to me. Despite the fact that the cast is pretty good all around, especially if you consider the script they’re settled with, and the film is generally well done. But shit wrapped in a nice package still stinks.
Summarizing: I shouldn’t have and neither should you.