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Thread: CATCH ME DADDY (Daniel Wolfe 2014)

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    CATCH ME DADDY (Daniel Wolfe 2014)

    Daniel Wolfe: Catch Me Daddy (2014)

    Shattering honor killing tale in brutal British realist style

    An impressive British feature debut launched in Directors Fortnight at Cannes 2014, it's been compared to the work of Lynn Ramsey, Andrea Arnold and Clio Barnard. It is also consciously a very harsh modern update of an American Western. Daniel Wolfe is a music video artist working with his brother Matthew, and they co-scripted this realistic, brutal story of family revenge set in the grim wilds of Yorkshire and Lankashire. Laila (newcomer and Bfi winner Sameena Jabeen Ahmed), a Pakistani girl in her late teens, has run off with a white Scottish boy, Aaron (up-and-comer Connor McCarron, whose start was Peter Mullan’s 2010 film Neds), and they are laying low in a trailer on the moors. She has found work in a local hair salon. He stays in with no apparent skills. Their love is playful, almost childish.

    Early scenes on the moors are ugly and haunting. The film begins with a heavily-north-country-accented reading of Ted Hughe's poem "Heptonstall Old Church" (burial site of his wife Sylvia plath) with its scary lines about a great black bird and darkness shattering inside the mind. Much of the music in the film is ear-splitting and intense. It's appropriate.

    The first half is filled with foreboding, as we see a search-revenge party of six men dispatched by Laila's restaurant owner father in two cars, two white hirelings and four young Pakistanis, one of whom turns out to be Laila's older brother Zaheer (Ali Ahmad). Plunging right in with great atmosphere and detail but no explanations, Wolfe cuts back and forth among Aaron at the caravan, Laila at work, and the men in cars, and skillfully heightens the tension to an edge of hysteria on both sides. Hard to say which is more disturbing, the brutish talk of the revenge crew or the idle play of the two kids, who get high in the evening, then wildly rock to Patti Smith's "Horses." Over time, the chase sequence is dominated by the white-haired coke-snorting mercenary, Tony (Gary Lewis). Tony's partner is Barry, a thick, psychopathic type played by first-time actor Barry Nunney.

    There's a contrast between the tough surroundings, ugly lights, and garish colors, and the rich, delicately precise images into which they are composed with the 35mm color film cinematography, mostly shot at night, by Andrea Arnold regular Robbie Ryan, who also recently shot Jimmy's Hall and Slow West, and whose work is distinctive and fine. (See it at its most poetic in Arnold's Wuthering Heights.) The beautiful images lift the brutal events to a sacramental transcendence that seems to emerge naturally from the smoky luminosity of the moors.

    The action is agonizing to follow, a torment of delay before things begin, then excruciating and sad when the manhunt peaks. The non-pros, mixed in with pros, make the time real and add local flavor you can cut with a knife. The dialect English talk needs subtitles for Americans, harder to follow than the Pakistani subtitled words one can read off. Some of the key action sequences aren't the best parts, editing being unclear, images too dark. The last scenes feel a bit overbearing, dragged-out. Nonetheless there's dedication, promise, and bold talent here, and no denying the power of what the Wolfes have wrought and the stark, shattering effect of the viewing experience. Not recommended for the squeamish, this is a small milestone in modern-day British cinema.

    The beauty of the images calls for their being watched on a big screen. Catch Me's US theatrical release by Oscilloscope begins 7 August 2015. It will be further available to US viewers in via video-on-demand format from the 1st of September.

    Catch Me Daddy, 110 mins., debuted at Cannes 2014 Directors Fortnight; well over a dozen other international fests followed including Karlovy and Rotterdam. At the London Film Festival Sameena Jabeen Ahmed won the best newcomer award. UK cinematic debut 27 February 2015.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-03-2015 at 08:30 AM.


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