© Spot On Distribution

Väter und Töchter (Fathers and Daughters)
U.S.A./Italy 2015

Opening 30 Jun 2016

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
Writing credits: Brad Desch
Principal actors: Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Diane Kruger, Quvenzhané Wallis

Jake Davis (Russell Crowe) is driving the car the night his wife is killed. His young daughter Katie (Kylie Rogers) is also in the car and witness to the tragic events of that evening.

Jake, a prize winning writer, is unable to cope with the death of his wife and the needs of a traumatized, five-year-old girl. As we watch his downward spiral, it becomes clear that he needs help with his psychological issues and his grieving child. Just before checking himself into a mental health facility, Jake leaves his confused daughter with his wife’s wealthy sister and her husband. After a year in the facility Jake returns to collect Katie. The reunion is not as he had hoped as Katie’s aunt is determined to keep her and proceeds to wage a custody battle for her.

Although Katie does return to live with Jake, the custody battle is not the only war raging. Jake is still afflicted with demons. While writing consumes Jake, little Katie grapples with the death of her mother and her father’s mental health issues. This is an impossible situation for a small child.

Eventually, Jake succumbs to his demons, leaving Katie an orphan.

As an adult Katie (Amanda Seyfried) is drawn to social work. At 30 years old and a trained psychologist, she still battles the demons from her childhood. The psychological damage that has plagued Katie for the past 25 years has resulted in very destructive coping methods that keep her from forming committed relationships. However, the healing process does begin when she manages the case of a young girl who was orphaned and refuses to speak. The bond they develop helps Katie, as well as the girl, work through their respective issues. The end of this tragedy has a bright spot, as the newly healing Katie manages to save her relationship with Cameron (Aaron Paul), and we are left with the feeling that all has ended better then it began.

This is a truly tragic story that has no winners, just survivors. The performances of Amanda Seyfried and Russell Crowe were poignant without being over the top. If you are in the mood for a real tear jerker, look no further. (Christine Riney)

Second Opinion

Following a devastating car crash, Pulitzer Prize winning author Jake Davis (Russell Crowe) is left with severe mental and physical repercussions. He struggles to overcome his disability while remaining a loving father. Twenty-seven years later, his daughter struggles with her own issues in love and life. 

If Fathers and Daughters had to be described in one word, that word would be “melodramatic.” It has the same amount of realism and true feeling as any daily soap opera, but with higher production values. While there is certainly a place for melodrama in the world, Fathers and Daughters doesn’t deliver in either feeling or understanding, making it a subpar offering to the genre. This is likely due to the two competing storylines which fail to adequately connect with one another and created disjointed and unsatisfying developments of all the characters. They all seem to be from a cookie cutter, and it is hard to care about what happens to them. There was the loving father, the damaged girl, the perfect boyfriend, the alcoholic aunt. Beyond these descriptions there isn’t anything else to them, they are not well-rounded and the gimmick of jumping forward and backward in time nipped any development in the bud. Why any of the characters do the things they do remains largely a mystery at the end of the film and it results in something high in drama but low in emotional stimulation.

Fathers and Daughters won’t make you laugh; it won’t make you cry, in fact, it likely won’t make you feel anything at all. As the film endeavors to be a saccharine sweet melodrama, this more than anything declares it to be an utter failure. (Rose Finlay)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.