Fathers and Daughters follows Jake and Katie Davis (Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried), a father and daughter struggling to put their lives back together after the death of Jake’s wife and Katie’s mother. We see Jake, a Pulitzer prize winning author trying to keep afloat in the aftermath of the car accident that killed his wife, while also following Katie’s story 27 years later as she learns to love Cameron (Aaron Paul), having resigned herself to one-night stands as a way to cope with her feelings of abandonment.
The film is very schmaltzy and saccharine at times – there is a classic falling-in-love montage, plenty of tender daddy-daughter moments with the young Katie, played with surprising charm by 11-year old Kylie Rogers. Although Seyfried is very watchable, Russell Crowe’s characterisation is clunky and overwrought.
The treatment of the women onscreen is laughable; at one point Katie’s aunt (Diane Kruger, whose American accent is unconvincing) admonishes Katie about the danger of love: “Men can survive without love, but not us women”. Other great lines include Katie’s uncle proclaiming, apropos of very little, “I am richer than God”. The exposition is incredibly clumsy and the film is anything but subtle, to the extent that at times it verges on the absurd.
Furthermore, the imagery is ham-fisted; there’s quite a creepy sex scene in which Katie’s boyfriend Cameron looks like her father, with every cliché about women with daddy issues being happily thrown in.
To put it bluntly, this film is two hours of rich, pretty white people having a bit of a tough time. That is not to trivialise the loss of a parent or partner, which is of course a horrible thing for anyone to go through, but throughout the film I just couldn’t quite shake the feeling that what the characters were going through were not quite as awful or as worthy of notice as the film wants the audience to believe.
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