Director: Gabriele Muccino
Cast: Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Diane Kruger, Jane Fonda, Quvenzhané Wallis, Bruce Greenwood, Octavia Spencer, Ryan Eggold
Runtime: 1 hr 56 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Sexual Scenes)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 7 January 2016
Synopsis: Fathers and Daughters is a love story between a father and daughter living in New York City. The story moves back and forth between the 1980’s where Jake Davis, a Pulitzerwinning novelist and widower, struggles with mental illness as he tries to raise his 5-yearold daughter, Katie, and 30-year-old Katie’s life in present-day Manhattan where she battles the demons that stem from her troubled childhood.
Russell Crowe nabbed an Oscar nomination playing a mentally troubled mathematician genius in A Beautiful Mind. 15 years later, he played a fictional Pulitzer winning writer, Jake Davis who suffered severe seizures after a horrific accident which also left his wife dead. Sadly, there are no noticeable award nominations for him this time round.
Fathers and Daughters for the record is directed by Italian Gabriele Muccino which touched the hearts of everyone with his Will Smith starring inspirational drama, The Pursuit of Happyness and stumped everyone with another Will Smith drama, Seven Pounds two years later. Worth mentioning, his current effort has a prestige cast including Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Jane Fonda, Diane Kruger, Bruce Greenwood, Quvenzhane Wallis and Octavia Spencer in addition to Crowe.
After the loss of her mom and a short period living with her snobbish aunt (Kruger) and uncle (Greenwood), Katie yearns for the return of her dad who has been rehabilitating in a mental institution. Jake struggles to be the best dad for Katie despite the fact that he is not doing that great financially and mentally. He continues to write though his latest book was disastrous. At the same time, Katie’s rich aunt is fighting to adopt her. 18 years later, we see Katie working as a trainee social worker. Unfortunately she is no angel. She is fighting her own inner demons who have been constantly seducing her into one night stands with random strangers.
This melodrama centers almost whole-hearteningly on the character of Katie (Seyfried), daughter of Jake. But this being a movie headlined by Oscar winner Russell Crowe, Gabriele working on a script by Brad Desch have to toggle between a 25 years old Katie and 7 years old Katie (Kylie Rogers). This way, we get to see Crowe weaving his cinematic magic playing a doting father who tries his best to provide for his young daughter. It’s almost heartbreaking to see Jake Davis breaking into a seizure halfway through his autograph session or trying hard to execute a simple task such as shaving.
The grown up Katie Davis on the other hand is a complete mess. She is only at her best when she is working with an orphan Lucy (Wallis). Other than that, she is filling the void in her heart by sleeping with complete strangers in cars and public toilets. She is indeed a wreck until she met an inspiring (sensitive) novelist Cameron (Paul) that she beings to feel heal. She has daddy issues all right and Fathers and Daughters takes its time to unfold the pain and emotion skillfully cutting away unnecessary subplots. The audiences only need to know about Jake and Katie Davis and this is what you get.
Despite being overly mushy and ham-fisted at times, Fathers and Daughters boasts a well-acted cast and a rather simple loving tale which exemplifies a father’s generous love to his daughter. If the story is not sad enough to unleash your tear ducts, perhaps Michael Bolton who also sang the theme song will.
(Warm, sad family drama. Only mature audiences need to apply)
Review by Linus Tee