Genre: Drama/Mystery
Matthew Macfadyen, Miranda Otto, Emily Barclay, Jodie Rimmer, Jimmy Keen
Brad Mcgann
Rating: M-18
Year Made: 2004

Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Widescreen
Sound: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Running Time: 2 hrs 8 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Comstar Home Entertainment






Paul (Matthew Macfadyen), a battle weary war photographer, returns to his remote New Zealand hometown, when his father dies, and faces the past he left behind. To his surprise, he also finds the sixteen-year-old Celia (Emily Barclay), the daughter of his first girlfriend, who hungers for the world beyond her small-town.

But many, including the members of both their families, frown upon the friendship and when Celia goes missing, Paul becomes increasingly persecuted as the prime suspect in her disappearance. As the violent and urgent truth gradually emerges, Paul is forced to confront the family tragedy and betrayal he ran from as a youth, and to face the grievous consequences of silence and secrecy that has surrounded his entire adult life.


Aptly titled, this movie is indeed about everything that happened in the Father’s Den.

Based on the third novel by one of New Zealand most prominent novelist Maurice Gee, critically acclaimed New Zealand filmmaker, Brad Mcgann had directed the movie in an unhurried but captivating fashion, which keeps audience guessing till the very end.

Paul (Matthew Macfadyen) was a war journalist with burdens that hinders his otherwise successful career. No one including his brother, Andrew (Colin Moy), knows the reason he runs away from home during his teens. It is only upon his returns to his father’s den many years later that the mysterious past creep to haunt him. More complication arises when Paul gets acquainted with a charming teenager, Celia (Emily Barclay), who
happens to find refuge in the den from her dilapidated family.

The den is a secret place, which the younger Paul and his father had shared wine, music and literature. This is also the same den, which young Paul had a romantic rendezvous with his first love Jackie (Jodie Rimmer), who was now mother of Celia. But what could have happen within that driven young Paul away? What is the truth behind Paul mother’s death? And what anchor role Celia would play, in the mystery surrounding the den?
Such were the daunting questions throughout audience’s mind.

For whatsoever decent excuses, every family man seems to need a secret hideout, away from his wife and kids. Unfortunately, most fathers’ hideout is places where hideous events may have happened and dark secrets buried. As the plots piece together like a jigsaw, it was not surprising that the anticipated tragedy were linked to the den.

The movie directions move to and fro the timeline and are careful for not revealing the full truth to the audience. Though movies with regular flash back are not anything fresh, still the formula succeeded in keeping the audience watching.

Oscar nominee cinematographer, Stuart Dryburgh (Bridget Jones’s Diary) mastery in rendering every frame to perfection makes the already breathtaking New Zealand’s mountainous and suburbs looks even better! Pay attention to all the photographs in the movie - The “feel” behind each picture would definitely awe you.

Credit also goes to the scriptwriter for devoting much time on characters development, which are the essential elements in any family mystery drama. However, it is a pity that the main casts, Matthrew Macfadyen and Emily Barclay looks awkward in their roles. Should they have succeeded to lift audience with their questionable friendship, the finale sentiments could have been more eruptive.

Fortunately, the supporting casts like Colin Moy, Jodie Rimmer, and teenage actor Jimmy Keen have excelled in their performance. The former two are crowned Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for their roles in the movie. Miranda Otto on the other hand did not leave any notable performance this time in spite of her reputation in Lord of the Rings.

Overall, this snail-paced dysfunctional family’s drama may not go well with most Singaporean. Nevertheless, the importance of communication and morality were worthy lessons reinforced. One thing for sure when it comes to family issue: Silence, is never golden.


The disc does not contain any bonus feature.


The movie soundtracks were excellent! Hence, if your home entertainment system boasts the Dolby Digital 5.1, do turn it on. Overall, there are no apparent problems with the disc’s audio.


The colours composition is perfectly rendered onto the DVD, giving you solid and rich hues during playback. However, there was jump spotted nearing the finale. Fortunately, that split-seconds imperfection didn’t cause much displeasure in viewing the movie.



Review by Leosen Teo

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