Daphne

From the first-time feature film scheme London Microwave that have developed titles such as Shifty, Lilting and the underrated Borrowed Time. One of the latest titles to come out from that scheme is a slice of life ‘dramady’ Daphne from director Peter Mackie Burns and screenwriter Nico Mensinga. Daphne, a thirty one year old single woman, Into The Badland’s Emily Beecham, whose life is in some form of rut as a junior chef in some hipster restaurant, with a penchant for partying hard, arguing with her newly holistic obsessed mother and a fan of the works of philosophical minds like Zizek that’s giving her a pessimistic view of the concepts of love. If her life did not quite seem off the rails already, after witnessing a shopkeeper being stabbed, she throws herself down deeper into the rabbit hole, drinking herself into oblivion and almost sleeping with any man in the same vicinity at whatever drinking hole she finds herself in, in an attempt to not confront her inability to connect with anyone.

I am always conscious of taking budgets and constraints in mind when assessing the final output of a feature film and I am a big fan of when a film punches above it’s weight, but the script behind Daphne is so thin Weight Watchers would kill to know it’s secret. The plot is almost non existent and the only significant moment of action in the whole film is done so haphazardly it almost becomes near comic via it’s shoddy delivery. Somewhat riding the crest of the wave of tragi-femme quarter-life crisis that was the sensation Fleabag, Daphne just feels like a pale phoney manufacture by comparison. Daphne herself is built up to be ‘quirky’ via a potty mouth, being a party animal, her penchant for philosophical giants and best of all has a pet snake. But none of her character profile feels genuine and a lot of scenes built towards creating her persona feel shoe horned in and illogical, that suggests the writer and director are very unfamiliar with the worlds they are trying to create. Ultimately there seems not a lot to really care about her character. Across the board, the performances leave a lot to be desired and many a time it felt like a lot of the cast were reading the lines for the first time off the page. It’s a misfire in so many areas and an almost a mystery to know what genre it fits into, its shy of any real drama and fails to execute comedic set ups, rendering the whole thing as a bit kitchen sink and a poor imitation of the works of Mike Leigh with it’s biggest crime is that it’s just really really bland that lacks any sense of authorship. For it’s near hour and a half length, I would have been better off sucking a paracetamol pill dry to create the same sensation of numbness.

Chris Aitken

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