By Heinrich Domingo
Fathers and daughters is made out of two mediocre stories put together in a storyline that is in the verge of crumbling any time. It is not emotionally engaging. It is not empathic enough. It is not rational in developing characters. Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried’s performance wasn’t able to salvage a plot that is too feeble to hold its A-list cast.
A writer (played by Crowe) who lost his wife and had a mental breakdown struggles to take care of her daughter (Seyfried). Without a job to support her, he wrote a book entitled Fathers and Daughters. While she became a fine woman, she grew up to have lost the ability to love and commit. This movie presents side-by-side images of two characters influencing each other. They are shown in separate timelines but with the same feelings of pain and suffering.
Instead of following the chronological sequence of events, the film experiments on its delivery. One frame centers on the father and his woes of taking care for her child. The second frame focuses on a grown up daughter and how she is living a discontented life. Although the effort to use a different treatment is commendable, Fathers and Daughters failed to relate these two stories into one unified storyline. From this point forward, the audience takes notice on cracks of the story just beginning to unfold.
In an attempt to give depth to the plot, elements were added – a mental breakdown, an infidel husband, and a case of hypersexuality. They were included but never expounded. Instead of using the father’s mental breakdown as a springboard in emphasizing the father and daughter relationship, the film inadvertently depicted a disturbed woman because of her dad’s absence. With this, the film became a lesson on how mentally ill fathers can cause life-long psychological trauma to their daughters.
Rusell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried’s acting was consistently brilliant. His depiction of a man trying to hold on for her daughter despite constant seizure attacks was emotionally engaging. Her performance as a young woman craving for sexual partners but failing to fall in love was empathetic. The two main acts are fun to watch in the big screen. Yet, with the problematic narrative they are in, the two characters’ output is not enough to win the audience.
The promise to present drama to the viewers was never achieved. What was shown on the big screen is a story that cannot hold the attention of the crowd. Subplots were left hanging in the backdrop while the main conflict of father-daughter relationship was never fully discussed. A Pulitzer posthumous award, an adoption tale, a longing for mother – bits of details keep coming while the viewers are confounded on where to focus. And then, to seal the deal, the film showed a romantic ending just to end its story.
Plot is at the core of movies. Despite an outstanding roster of actors and actresses, a film will simply fall apart without a cohesive and strong plot. This is what happened with Fathers and Daughters. It began on a flimsy narrative and shall forever be remembered for that.