Catch Me Daddy, 2014.
Directed by Daniel Wolfe.
Starring Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Conor McCarron, Gary Lewis and Barry Nunney.
Laila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) has run away from home, living in the Yorkshire moors with her boyfriend Aaron (Conor McCarron), but her brother, alongside his mates and some muscle for hire are in pursuit.
NOTE: Due to technical difficulties at the screening, (no foreign subtitles) think of this more as a reaction, than a review. I do plan to see Catch Me Daddy again and do a proper review, but considering it’s set for release in Spring 2015, we could be waiting a while yet.
Making the most of its ethereal Yorkshire landscapes, shot by Andrea Arnold’s regular DP Robbie Ryan, Catch Me Daddy marks music video director Daniel Wolfe’s directorial debut, writing the sparse screenplay with his brother Matthew.
The entire film is actually very reminiscent of Shane Meadow’s work – the opening shot alone, with narration by Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, reminded me a lot of Dead Man’s Shoes. Yet, it’s difficult to say whether Catch Me Daddy will become a definitive British movie later down the line. Where it earns some credit is the story itself. Dealing with the controversial subject of ‘honour killings’ amongst British Pakistani communities, it’s a look into a world that’s a lot darker than you realise. Especially when it’s set against landscapes that look so peaceful and charming.
Living in a caravan with her boyfriend, 17 year old Laila doesn’t seem to realise – or, maybe wants to forget, the danger that she’s in. Spending her days sweeping up and washing hair at a local salon, and her nights dancing around to Patti Smith – used to great effect as the presence of her brother gets closer – she’s content to live cash in hand for the rest of her life, which if she isn’t careful, could be shorter than expected.
After an opening that sort of establishes the stakes – including a telling scene showing one of Laila’s tormentors with his own daughter – it becomes a lean chase thriller, evoking the likes of Kill List and even Tyrannosaur in its stark lens. The accents, even for an audience of native speakers at Leeds Film Festival, seemed to be a bit too thick at times, almost comically so, with many simply nodding their heads along to dialogue heavy scenes, especially amongst the brother and his friends in their car. Still, the script itself is full of tense beats and naturalistic dialogue, but where it goes off the rails is the last fifteen minutes or so, with a scene involving Laila and her father that perhaps goes on a lot longer than it should. The final shot is haunting and incredibly disturbing, but the film doesn’t earn that scene, as it comes from a choice made by two of the major characters that shouldn’t have happened, considering that her father is the catalyst for the entire thing.
As Laila, Sameena Jabeen Ahmed makes an amazing debut, winning the best newcomer award at this year’s London Film Festival for her almost too realistic portrayal of a girl on the run. Neds’ Conor McCarron plays her boyfriend Aaron, who, without realising, is becoming just as possessive as the family they’re trying to escape.
It’s a strong debut from Daniel Wolfe and a bold topic to tackle in just over 100 minutes. But there’s no silver lining. It’s relentlessly brutal, to the point that the final scene might not even have the intended reaction from some audience members – it’s just another nail.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★