Title: Catch Me Daddy
Director: Daniel and Matthew Wolfe
Major Players: Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Conor McCarron, Gary Lewis
Out Of Five: 3.5
There’s been a positive rush of new British films this week. Inevitably, the big names of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel have been getting the most attention, but behind them come two very different propositions. The grittiness of Catch Me Daddy with its street cast actors and the co-operative project, A Dark Reflection, which is very much a film with a personal message.
I’ve reviewed A Dark Reflection separately on The Coops Review, so let’s concentrate on Catch Me Daddy, the directorial debut from brothers Daniel and Matthew Wolfe, set in a very unsympathetic Yorkshire.
Teenagers Laila (Sabeena Jabeen Ahmed) and Aaron (Conor McCarron) have run away to escape their disapproving families and are hiding out on trailer park. But her father has employed a gang of bounty hunters to track them down and they’re closing in. It’s only a matter of time before they turn up on the doorstep.
It’s a contemporary and decidedly unromantic twist on the classic young lovers on the run story. Apart from a few moments of peace and tenderness, the couple are constantly looking over their shoulders and their relationship is already showing signs of cracks, despite their feelings for each other. They’ve swopped the confines of living at home for the confines of living on little or no money with all that entails.
Laila’s Pakistani English, Aaron’s Scottish and a drifter – certainly not what her traditionally minded family have in mind for her. Yet she lives a life where there always seems to be a man for her to lean on, although whether or not they’re actually dependable is another matter. Aaron, for instance, clearly cares for her, but we start to have second thoughts about that when he comes close to bullying her into staying at home instead of going out to a club with some friends. Is he possessive or protective? It’s probably a bit of both. The motives of druggie Tony (Gary Lewis) are more questionable when he unexpectedly rescues her from the other bounty hunters. He delivers her safely to her father, fulfilling the deal and pocketing the fee. But he’s up to his ears in debt with his dealer, so he drives away, leaving both of them to their own devices.
And then there’s her father. The final section is a two-hander between Laila and Tariq (Wasim Zakir) and they’re easily the most distressing of the film. The angry father confronts his hysterical daughter, who continually repeats the nick name he gave her as a child in the hope that he won’t carry out his threats. The words “honour killing” are never uttered, but their shadow hangs over the entire film, and these scenes in particular – and in a very literal sense. He swings one way, then the other, then the other. We’re left to make up our own mind about the outcome but, whichever one we choose, it’s harrowing. And both Ahmed and Zakir are at their best.
A barely controlled violence simmers under the surface of the film. It’s constantly there in the way the bounty hunters talk and their attitudes to it although, ironically, it first manifests itself in an accident. But the deliberate killings aren’t far behind. We’re spared most of the brutal details, but see enough to get the point. It all adds to the menacing atmosphere that pervades the film and this is reinforced by the photography – the scene when the couple are chased across the moors by torchlight is especially effective.
But the photography also gives the film some much-needed beauty, as well as some strong images. The only trouble is that there are times when cinematographer Robbie Ryan clearly can’t resist just one more shot, and it’s often a shot too many – strip lighting on the ceiling, a deliberate lack of hygiene in the gents and the bottle of nail varnish spilling its contents (although that, it has to be said, does look beautiful).
The Wolfe brothers made a smart move in casting many non-actors. Their unfamiliar faces give the film a freshness and immediacy and, in the main, their performances are impressive – especially Ahmed’s. As a portrait of contemporary Britain, it’s pessimistic and dour. As a piece of film making, it mixes tradition with an almost raw quality to make something that’s uneven but absorbing and memorable.
Catch Me Daddy is currently on limited release around the UK.