“I don’t feel much... I haven’t felt like I’m alive in a long time”
Peter Mackie Burns’ debut feature Daphne paints an intriguing portrait of a young woman wandering through life. After being witness to a horrible act of violence, 31-year-old Daphne begins to lose grip on her life and begins to spiral downwards as a response to the incident and the life she finds herself in.
The film plays out something like a Kenneth Lonergan script by way of Jim Jarmusch. Burns takes his time with the film, allowing its quieter moments time to breathe which works to help properly establish the characters before we dive head first into an examination of their lives. With a brisk running time of 87 minutes the film lingers long enough for the audience to feel a true connection with the protagonist
The script, written by Nico Mensinga, is clever without begin showy. Daphne is a smart woman who only touts her intellect in the right moment, leading to an engaging script that comes off as witty complex as its protagonist. Mensinga has a good ear for naturalistic dialogue, which is melded perfectly with Burn’s minimalist visual aesthetic. This pairing creates a film that could have easily been overwrought but instead feels incredibly authentic.
Emily Beecham delivers a dazzling performance as the titular Daphne. Her portrayal of a young woman struggling to stay afloat amidst the madness and mundane of her life is brilliantly naturalistic. She imbues Daphne with a dry wit and cynicism that becomes endearing and gives the audience something to latch onto as she heads down her somewhat darker path of self-discovery. Seldom leaving the screen, Beecham delivers an intelligent and confident performance that well and truly establishes her as an actress to look for in the future.
The film may not be to everybody’s taste but if you’re willing to allow yourself to connect with the characters you’re sure to find it a rewarding journey. Daphne is a rich character study anchored by a compelling natural performance that heralds the arrival of an adept and unique filmic voice.
Written by Chris Swan.