Daphne (2017)

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Ninety minutes was enough time with the prickly, belligerent Daphne but I couldn’t help but wish her well. #MIFF2017

Daphne (Emily Beecham) is the kind of friend who lets you down again and again but you can’t quite remove her from your life. We have all had a friend like Daphne at some point; witty, independent, non-conformist – she is fun to party with and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. But then the sassy spirit starts to become cynical and before long, she brings a vortex of negative energy with her wherever she goes, alienating friends as quickly as she makes them.

Peter Mackie Burns’ film inexorably follows each moment of Daphne’s dysfunctional life, observing with some humour and little comment as we try to divine what is behind her impassive face. There are small tells – the phrases she uses, the moments of weakness with friends, her cynical questions about love – and we slowly realise she is in a serious downward spiral. The nonchalant bitterness is hiding a fragile child ill-equipped for the rigours of adult life.

It’s hard to look away from Emily Beecham’s face as we wach her on her self-destructive path. There is a claustrophobic feel to the film as the camera follows her every move and we see only the small scope of Daphne’s world – the restaurant where she works, her flat, the many bars she frequents. Characters flit in and out and she doggedly pushes each away. There are some we want to stay; the ebullient David (Nathaniel Martello-White) and Rita (Geraldine James), Daphne’s long-suffering mother who has achieved what Daphne can’t – an accountability for her own life and actions. This is a critical point for Daphne and throughout the film, I was poignantly aware that the resolution could be only one of two things.

Incidental music is minimal and there is little, other than our observations of her character, to help us understand how to feel about Daphne. The ending, perhaps, shows a glimmer of hope although the subtlety of the film means this could be just my desperate attempt to leave the cinema feeling a little less broken.


Have you seen this film? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

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