Daphne 2017 ***

Peter Mackie Burns has long been one of the UK’s most interesting directors; his award-winning shorts promised much, but his first feature Come Closer had the most limited release possible.  From a script by Nico Mesinga, Daphne is an abrasive, telling portrait of a young woman, Daphne, as played by Emily Beecham. Working in a London restaurant, it’s clear that Daphne is capable of more, but turbulent relationships with men and drugs don’t help, and she feels stuck in a rut until witnessing a violent event changes her view on life. With strong support from Geraldine James as her mother, Beecham creates a vivid portrait of Daphne that sticks in the mind; she’s not without energy or ideas, but she’s short of the agency required to achieve them, and watching her wake up to her predicament makes for a gripping 90 mins.  This kind of character study used to be a regular feature of UK film and TV, but it’s become a lost art and Mackie Burns deserves credit for keeping the flag flying for observational, reality-based film-making that was a key part of the social resence of the BBC in the 70’s and Channel 4 in the 80’s.


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