(The 2017 SXSW Film Festival opened on March 10 and ran all week until March 18. HtN has you covered and GUARANTEE more coverage than any other site! Check out this review of Peter Mackie Burns’ Daphne, a”kitchen sink” drama reminiscent of the French New Wave.)
Peter Mackie Burns’ Daphne carries the relentless naturalism of kitchen sink realism in tandem with the eye-catching aesthetics of the French New Wave. Daphne’s take on the emotionally convoluted single woman drama takes a refreshingly frank approach to the subject matter while utilizing imagery that repeatedly hearkens back to the cinema of the 1960s and 70s. The cinematic simplicity of Daphne is quite stunning and beautiful.
A beautiful title sequence sets the stage, as Daphne (Emily Beecham) descends an escalator with her image fractured in a series of mirrors alongside her. Some might see this as heavy-handed symbolism of Daphne’s ever-sinking life and splintering self-image, but who can fault Burns for using a purely cinematic device to provide this striking introduction to his protagonist? Sure, it’s not quite as impactful as the mirrored imagery found within Agnes Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7, but it is pretty darn close.
It goes without saying, Daphne is having a rough time of it – it being her life. She works in a modest restaurant. Unfortunately, that job doesn’t seem to support her ever-present penchant for partying. Daphne’s entire existence seems to be one hell of a misanthropic bender, but she is able to hold down the restaurant job thanks to a supervisor, Joe (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), who has an obvious crush on her. What is probably most fascinating about Daphne is that she seems to thrive upon other people’s reactions to her. She feeds off their admiration as much as their revulsion. Oddly, she seems to enjoy it most when people despise her. That said, Daphne also appears to crave to be disappointed by others. You might say that Daphne has a certain fetish for negativity.
The screenplay by Nico Mensinga has some stunning one-liners up its sleeve for Daphne. She is sort of a poet laureate and/or Philosopher king for the single female working class. It is certainly fun to hear Daphne ruminate about her predicaments. The bit about the pregnancy vitamins is top notch. Oddly enough, I had a hard time not falling in love with Daphne. She lured me in like a Venus flytrap.
– Don Simpson (@thatdonsimpson)