Daphne

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - HI­LARY A WHITE

Cert: 15A. Se­lected cin­e­mas

With a trou­bled in­cep­tion and de­layed re­lease, Ken­neth Lon­er­gan’s Mar­garet (2011) was a multi-coloured char­ac­ter por­trait that was well worth the wait. Com­par­isons are be­ing drawn with this per­cep­tive study of an un­teth­ered mil­len­nial sleep­walk­ing through life un­til she is shaken out of in­er­tia.

In such fare, a teak-strength cen­tral per­for­mance is re­quired to an­chor ev­ery­thing. En­ter Emily Beecham, a some­what fa­mil­iar face from roles in Hail, Cae­sar! and 28 Weeks Later who, if there is any jus­tice in the world, will spring­board to big­ger things on the back of this Ed­in­burgh Film Fes­ti­val win­ner.

Daphne works in a hip­ster Lon­don restau­rant with willthey-won’t-they boss Joe (Tom Vaughan-lawlor). Out­side of this, she faffs about from pub to night­club to bed­room, booz­ing and snort­ing and ca­vort­ing with­out any larger mean­ing to her 31-year ex­is­tence. When she is present at a con­ve­nience store stab­bing in­ci­dent, the trauma of it starts to worm its way into her care­free ex­is­tence, forc­ing her to ex­am­ine cer­tain things.

Beecham and writer Nico Mensinga have crafted a mar­vel­lous char­ac­ter in Daphne, fully re­lat­able in her ba­nal­ity and cyn­i­cism, yet elu­sively fas­ci­nat­ing to watch as she ne­go­ti­ates her rud­der­less Lon­don odyssey.

There is lots of sharp hu­mour in Peter Mackie Burns’s film but also a low-level ache that swells in vol­ume with mas­ter­ful sub­tlety.

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