Time can be a tricky element to pull off in movie narratives. Do it well, and you can convey succinctly a subject matter. Mess it up and the order of events may seem interrupted or arbitrary. For Fathers and Daughters, it seems like doing the latter has scuppered the film’s chance of ever living up to its potential.

At less than ten minutes into the film, a multitude of multi-generational plot lines are hurled at viewers in quick succession. It is, at the least, a rookie attempt by director Gabriele Muccino to get viewers up to speed on the subject matter. Doing quite the opposite, the narrative gets dizzying rather than enlightening. Surprising, considering the lukewarm manner in which 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness was so delicately executed.

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In Fathers and Daughters, Russell Crowe plays Jake Davis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose life takes a turn for the worse, amongst other setbacks, when he releases his book to scathing critic reviews. However, you start to wonder if the film’s very turning point is a subtle foreshadowing of the film’s eventual reception.

After a topsy turvy introduction to the plot, Muccino does a less than satisfactory job of telling a story. Fathers and Daughters quickly turns into a cinematic equivalent of switcheroo, alternating between parallel plot lines that leave you going “huh” rather than “oh”, every plot hole a misleading “catch me if you can”.

With all the above in mind, this is precisely why Davis’ struggles in the film also personifies the weighty burden placed on Crowe’s shoulders. The Academy Award winner proves to be the film’s saving grace with his portrayal of a tormented father and author.

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If anything, Fathers and Daughters does seem like it was filmed with a fairly solid end goal in mind. But its buried so deep beneath layer upon layer of contrived storytelling that understanding the intended meaning of the film doesn’t seem like a worthy reward after a tiresome hunt. Its hard to imagine Aaron Paul playing any role other than Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, but that is little handicap to his portrayal of aspiring author Cameron.

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
Genre: Drama
Running time: 116 minutes
Rating: 2/5 stars

Fathers and Daughters is showing in theatres.

Image credits: Shaw organisation

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