NOVA Film Festival Review: ‘Daddy Issues’

Earlier in the week, I saw the new thriller A
Quiet Place
. I left the theater confident that I had seen the most
shocking and horrifying movie of the year. Having now seen the new indie drama Daddy
, I feel confident that I was wrong. Though not a horror movie, Daddy
has its finger firmly on the pulse of what will just terrify you
to your core. It’s everything you don’t want to see or think about, shot and
edited beautifully. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was this happily
shaken up by a movie before, especially one without any literal monsters or
jump-scares. This is a quiet, human story that brilliantly made my skin crawl.
Having its regional premiere at last night’s NOVA Film
Festival, Daddy Issues follows Maya, a young, queer, aspiring artist who
wants nothing more than to escape the oppression of her yuppie mother and
step-father and attend an Italian art school. Fortunately, she meets a muse and
kindred spirit in Jasmine, an Instagram model she’s been following. They begin
both a romantic and professional relationship together, spending all their time
together and designing modern fashion pieces based around her drawings.
Unfortunately for the young couple, there is the hiccup of Jasmine’s other
relationship: a co-dependent, money driven, fetish deal with an older, drug
addicted doctor she calls “Daddy.” Maya is jealous, Jasmine’s heart is torn in
two, and the audience squirms at the specifics of the plot that I can’t get
into here.
I am kind of walking on eggshells in summarizing this film,
as I want to be careful not to give too much away. I was lucky enough to come
into the film blind, and wouldn’t want to ruin this experience for anyone who
intends on watching it in the future. Part of the brilliance of Daddy
was in its revelations. It seems like we’re watching several
different plot lines when in reality we’re more seeing different vantage points
of the same broad strokes story. These plots specifics that I’m dancing around
are what make the movie as exquisitely messed up as it is. So without going
into any further spoilers, please take my word for it when I say that this film
is a beautiful nightmare.
One of the many things I loved about this film was its
visual style. Director Amara Cash had a brilliant vision for the neon-punk
world of millennial fashion design, and captures it in a way that feels like
the hyperactive child of Phantom Thread and Spring
Fast moving cuts (set to blasting music) almost hypnotize you
with patterns, whereas the lives of the adult characters are almost comically
contrasted. They’re shown in static, long, dull, grey shots. You literally hear
the clock ticking. It was a spot on way to show us, through style and visuals,
the vastly different lifestyles inhabited by the intersecting characters.
I was genuinely floored by this film. It’s so beautiful and
appalling at the same time. It’s haunting. This is one of those movies that,
for numerous reasons that I truly don’t want to spoil, will stick with you long
after it’s over. The acting is top notch. Visually, it’s gorgeous. The script
is fascinating and deeply disturbing. Just about every aspect of the film was a
home run. A soul-crushing home run. If this sounds like something your psyche
can handle, I would highly recommend Daddy Issues.
Rating: 4 out of 5



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