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Review of downer drama 'Daphne' (2017) - Peter Mackie Burns.

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  • Review of downer drama 'Daphne' (2017) - Peter Mackie Burns.

    'Into Daphne's tempestuous nightlife even a little daylight must eventually fall!'

    This immersively intimate portrait of downwardly-spiralling, emotionally disconnected hedonist Daphne (Emily Beecham) is a meticulously observed microcosm of an attractive young woman's self-imposed isolation and ever-increasing despair. Finding little solace in her boozy bouts of casual sex and recreational drug use, estranged from family and friends, wholly frustrated at work, Daphne's escalating emotional malaise reaches crisis point after witnessing a sudden grisly knifing in a late-night grocers. As a lurid snapshot of a wayward soul darkly adrift in a toxic haze of alcohol 'Daphne' proves to be remarkably adroit at capturing the murky miasma of existential metropolitan angst and Daphne's frequently astringent character is vividly portrayed with a suitably chaotic, unfiltered frankness by the undeniably talented Emily Beecham.

    While Peter Mackie Burns's downbeat drama is episodic, many of Daphne's raw, fractured interludes have a relatable ring of truth, especially to those who similarly sought refuge in drink or drugs. The divisive personality of the selfish lead character, along with film's laudable lack of sentimentality may not have universal appeal, but the darkly sardonic feature has a lively array of colourful characters, a fine score, plus a bravura central performance of incandescent integrity! Daphne also struck me as having some of the more challenging qualities of a Fassbinder heroine, while undeniably beauteous and intriguing, the frustration she elicits from those in her proximity are mirrored by the viewer's own frequent ambivalence. Cinema protagonists all too rarely resemble the contradictory, easily bruised, flesh and blood reality, but Daphne's guileless lapses into hedonistic oblivion is a disturbingly relatable human condition, and the film's most appealing sequences are Daphne's awkwardly candid exchange with an increasingly baffled young mother on the bus and her noisome, alcoholically-raddled dalliance with the no less bemused bouncer David (Nathaniel Martello-White).

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