Published on June 24th, 2017 | by Allan Brown0
EIFF 2017: Daphne Review
Movie Review: Daphne (2017)
UK Release Date: 29 Sep 2017
Running Time: 90 minutes
Director: Peter Mackie Burns
Writers: Nico Mensinga
Cast: Emily Beecham, Geraldine James, Tom Vaughan Lawlor
Daphne (Emily Beecham) is a 31 year old Londoner. Despite working as a chef in a vibrant restaurant and living in one of the busiest cities in the world, she lives in isolation. On the surface Daphne is a fierce, barb-tongued, independent, tour de force. Her cold hearted cynicism towards people and anything she sees ‘masquerading as love’, holds no boundaries and is swiftly quashed. In her spare time, that is split between examining the works of Slovenian psychoanalytic philosopher; Slavoj Zizek, or quoting the delights of Siegfried Freud – to anyone who will listen, she can be found traversing the local bars indulging in an arrangement of beverages and substances, whilst hooking up with men she could care less about, all in an attempt to feel something other than jaded.
However, there is a deep seeded unspoken pain that simmers just below the surface, to which Daphne’s chaotic lifestyle and self destructive behaviour is a result of. But when Daphne bares witness to a traumatic event on her road home one night, her hardened exterior begins to crack, thus forming the catalyst for much needed introspection, reflection and change in her life.
Director Peter Mackie Burns and writer Nico Mensinga have clearly devoted tremendous time and effort in building the character of Daphne, and as a result there is a real sense of history there. Although most of it is never explored in the twelve days we spend with Daphne, it is there subtly seeping into every scene. This attention to detail in the writing, direction and that sublime performance from Emily Beecham, is testament to the film’s success and what makes this magnetic character study so special. Beecham’s portrayal is so authentic and wonderfully honest, that despite her characters selfish exterior, she allows us to see just enough unresolved pain for us to recognise it. This is our window in to Daphne’s soul and Beecham plays it to perfection, in what is undoubtedly one of the strongest lead performances at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Other prominent characters inhabit the landscape of Daphne’s life, including her besotted manager Joe (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and her estranged mother Rita (Geraldine James). Despite the importance of these characters to Daphne’s story arc, Burn’s and Mensinga’s decision to restrict their screen time to only their fleeting interactions with Daphne, is incredibly poignant. This not only prevents us the audience, from getting to know these characters intimately, but highlights the way Daphne lives her life.
By the end, the film tells us; no matter how busy or cynical of love and friendship in the modern world we think we are, we all require human interaction, to feel wanted and loved, no matter how much we deny it to ourselves.
Summary: Beecham ignites the screen with cold hearted cynicism in one of the most authentic and captivating performances at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.