There shouldn’t be so much to like about this film. A pitiable misanthrope, Daphne is a hedonistic thirty-something just about getting away with still passing for a twenty-something. Navigating its way through the heady late nights and bleary mornings-after of London’s Elephant and Castle neighbourhood, Peter Mackie Burns’ fast-paced debut feature is, however, something of a treasure.
Skeptics will be pleased to know the film’s title hedonist – when she isn’t snorting “gak” and spouting Freud – works hard to earn an honest wage. She is witness to a traumatic event that – alongside the insecurity of her zero-hour contract – gives her actual reason to dwell on the impermanence of things. While some of her longer speeches are slightly tiring, it is in the witty retorts that Emily Beecham achieves the nuances of her role. Just don’t go on any first dates with her.
It is rare to see a film plot that simply revolves around the daily trials and tribulations of a young metropolitan woman. Often these types of films don’t fare well with critics (see, for example, Peter Bradshaw’s utter blindness to Noah Baumbach’s five-star flick Frances Ha), but there is hope for this one. The well-timed screenplay just about makes it into the film’s cutthroat edit, and is helmed by Beecham’s impressive turn. This is a portrait of the unpredictability of city life, an astute mosaic of crime and retribution that is sharply self-aware. This is certainly one to revisit.
Aware of the clichés of its genre, Daphne is a snapshot of city life bound to make an impression. Peter Mackie Burns’ directorial debut is full of promise. Emily Beecham’s performance makes up for some of the slightly hit-and-miss screenplay.
CAST: Emily Beecham, Geraldine James, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Nathaniel Martello-White
DIRECTOR: Peter Mackie Burns
WRITER: Nico Mensinga
SYNOPSIS: Daphne is the vibrant character portrait of a young woman juggling a hectic restaurant job with a busy nightlife. Her life is thrown off-balance after she witnesses the near-fatal stabbing of a shopkeeper.