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Film review: Fathers and Daughters – Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried in depressing drama

This Hollywood-Italian co-production tells a heavy story, weighted down with constant gloom, about a novelist who kills his wife in a car accident and has to bring up his young daughter

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 1:30pm

2/5 stars

Anyone wishing to experience two hours of misery should buy a ticket for Fathers and Daughters. The doom and gloom doesn’t let up for an instant in this story of a novelist (Russell Crowe) who kills his wife in a car accident and has to bring up his young daughter while suffering from psychotic fits. A dishevelled Crowe adds some gravitas and sensitivity to the story, but the movie feels contrived whenever he’s off screen.

The sight of Crowe writhing around the floor in agony every 20 minutes or so is depressing enough, but there’s another big dollop of misery to contend with. The film has a dual storyline, and flashes forward to depict the grown-up daughter (Amanda Seyfried) as a sex addict who’s unable to commit to any form of relationship.

When Crowe’s not suffering from a fit, or fighting to keep custody of his child, he’s bashing away at a typewriter and trying to find his way around a script that propagates all the usual writerly stereotypes. Total disaster is averted by the presence of Jane Fonda as a literary agent, and her scenes seem to come from a much better movie than those of the younger cast members.

Films about writers don’t have to be gloomy – wordsmiths can be amusing, too, as Al Pacino demonstrated in Author! Author!. A few good-natured moments would have made Fathers and Daughters an easier load to bear. Still, fans of melodrama might enjoy it, although they’ll need an incredibly big box of tissues to make it through to the bitter end.

Fathers and Daughters opens on June 23

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