With an all-star cast including Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill and Miranda Otto, The Daughter is a gut-wrenching new Australian drama. Set in the middle of a dwindling one industry town, the film explores how one secret can rip a family apart.
When Christian (Paul Schneider) returns home to Australia after living overseas, he uncovers a family secret that destroys the lives of the people he left behind. Christian’s father Henry (Geoffrey Rush) owns the local timber mill, which is where most of the towns residents work, and is richest man in the area. When Henry is forced to close down the mill, he leaves Oliver (Ewen Leslie), Christian’s childhood friend, out of work. Oliver’s daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young) is his whole world, he works hard making sure she can do all the things he never had the chance to do. But when Christian discovers the truth about an affair his father had before his mother died, he spills a well hidden secret to Oliver, not knowing the kind of devastation he will cause.
For a first time feature for writer and director Simon Stone, The Daughter shows off the kind of potential he has for the future. To be producing a film in this sort of league so early on in a career indicates that Stone surely has so much more to offer the Australian film industry. However, it’s not just Stone that has made The Daughter so excellent. The whole cast give a phenomenal performance that brings so much more depth to the already brilliant script. However, it’s Odessa Young that stands out in the cast of seasoned actors. Her performance as Hedvig; a confused, bright, emotional and complicated young girl trying to navigate and understand an isolating situation is mesmerising to watch. There is a subtleness to Young’s performance that really brings out the complexities of her character.
Set in a town where the majority of the workforce are in the same industry, The Daughter provides parallels with many big country towns across Australia. Tension is created with the timber mill shutting down, the loss of jobs and the mass exodus of people from the town, leaving an air of uncertainty. The film explores what could be referred to as the new version of the quintessential Aussie Battler stereotype; the working class family destabilised by the loss of industry, a common image in Australian society today. This adds to the story, giving the already terrible situation a more in depth backdrop to enhance the drama.
The Daughter has so many layers that work together to create a moving and beautiful drama about love and lies. With such a brilliant script accompanied by wonderful performances, The Daughter is a rollercoaster of emotion from start to finish. The film is a gripping story of the past coming into the present and destroying everything in its wake. Giving the audience so many things to take hold of and relate to, The Daughter keeps you captivated from beginning to end, grabbing onto you and thrusting you into a world of emotions that are incredibly difficult to navigate.