FATHERS OF GIRLS

2.5 out of 10

Release Date: 19th November 2010

Director: Karl Howman & Ethem Cetintas

Cast: Ray Winstone, Chloe Howman, Luke Kempner, James Hillier, Roger Kitter with Glen Murphy and Lois Winstone

Writer: Karl Howman & Ethem Cetintas

Trailer: FATHERS OF GIRLS

posterFathers Of Girls seems to set its store out along the same street as Liam Neeson‘s Taken or a similar Nicolas Cage-style revenge flick. Then it goes on to ignore the cliches and stereotypes.  Anyone hoping for such carnage on the streets of Salisbury in Wiltshire will be in for a sore disappointment.   Frank (RAY WINSTONE – 44 INCH CHEST) is a solicitor devastated when his daughter (LOIS WINSTONE – BASEMENT) shows up dead after a drug overdose at her student digs.  Under the misapprehension that his daughter was an angel, he goes down to Salisbury to get to find out who sold the deadly drugs to her.

Now I’ve  lived in Salisbury (I was living there when this was being filmed) and was socially active for nearly three years down there.  I am shocked to find out there are organised crime rings down there, so that baffled me a little bit (there probably is though – I’m a pub man though). The film made up for this weirdness in a very small way because I gleaned feint enjoyment from the fact that I recognising the cafes, libraries, colleges, parks and squares that our hero trudges through in the name of unearthing the truth.  Long takes, muddy sound and natural lighting contribute to the fatigue brought on by willing Frank into action.  For someone conducting an investigation, he’s very slow on the uptake and quite backward at coming forwards.  He stumbles upon a very real lead and leaves a second meeting to gather more information down to chance.  The ‘big bad’ is established almost immediately and yet he’s seemingly let off the hook because he has an identical relationship with his own daughter, Emma (CHLOE HOWMAN – HOLBY BLUE).  Ray Winstone does put in a thoughtful performance and he alone carries the film on his back. The rest of the project is amateurish, badly scripted and plotted.  It’s subject matter is interesting in taking the father’s reaction to his child’s death but there’s no life in the finish.  A clunky and redundant voice over by Frank makes the whole exercise hard to identify with and unfortunately, at other times makes it hilarious.  Karl Howman (of  TV’s Brush Strokes fame is Winstone’s brother-in-law) and co-director Ethem Cetintas bring nothing but drudgery to the proceedings.  It’s probably been viewed as an ‘gift’ to one of our acting national treasures but sadly its a misguided and considerably duff one.  It flunks on every level as a drama, a psych study, an actor’s showcase or a thriller. It’s like a car with no wheels or engines. It just sits there looking hopeless.  Some of the takes are inordinately long, there’s one in particular where Ray Winstone makes a cup of tea including boiling the kettle in real time. This is followed or intercut with a scene where Emma empties one of the daughter’s suitcases examining each dress in turn slowly.  Even a bizarre visit to a gay psychic (ROGER KITTER – ALLO ALLO) along with goofy inner monologue fail to lighten the film up. Maybe Karl Howman and co. are aiming to be the UK version of Tarkovsky.  This was more like Emmerdale Farm on ketamine. And there’s no excuse for it’s very strange non-ending.  I thought I’d missed a very large point but I hadn’t.

I think I read that Ray Winstone did this for film for free, as part of a family effort.  This is one home movie that should have stayed that way.  It being a thriller set in Salisbury says it all.  It’s true that this is the kind of adventure Salisbury would throw up in real life but there was really no need to make a film about it. Fathers of Girls is only worth a look for a good but wasted performance from Ray Winstone, who truly looks like he believes in this project. Otherwise avoid like a night on the tiles around Wiltshire’s night clubs. At a running time of under 1Hour and 10 minutes (including credits) this is one unusually short dog fart of an expensive home movie.  Sometimes blaming your less famous family isn’t enough of an excuse. Ray needs to exercise some caution in his choices.  He also showed up in another indie as a favour to a family member last year; see the marginally worse Elfie Hopkins.

2.5 out of 1o – This gets all of it’s points and good will because of Ray Winstone‘s committed performance.  Otherwise this is a dead fish of a film. An intriguing idea that is as botched as you possibly get.  Pretty awful especially for its experimentation with long takes and static camera work. The ending is an unforgivable cop-out too, I don’t care if it’s realistic, it’s certainly can’t stand up as an ending to a story. Hard to stay alive let alone awake during this short drip drip drip of a mystery.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Ray Winstone: Point Break (2015), The Legend of Barney Thomson, The Gunman, Noah, Lords of London, Ashes, The Hot PotatoThe Sweeney, Snow White & The Huntsman, Elfie Hopkins, Hugo, London Boulevard, The Devil’s Tomb, Rango (voice), TrackerSex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll44 Inch Chest, Edge Of Darkness,   Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skulls, Fool’s Gold, Breaking and Entering, The Departed, Cold Mountain, Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe (voice),  The Proposition, King Arthur (2004),  Ripley’s Game, The Martins, Last Orders, Sexy Beast, There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble, Nil By Mouth, Love Honour and Obey, Fanny and Elvis,  Final Cut,  Martha – Meet Daniel Luke and Laurence, Face, Ladybird Ladybird, Tank Malling, Quadrophenia, Scum, Robin Of Sherwood (TV)
  • Chloe Howman: Holby Blue (TV)
  • James Hillier: Holby Blue (TV), Long Time Dead
  • Roger Kitter: Suzie Gold, ‘Allo ‘Allo (TV)
  • Glen Murphy: Lords of London, The Hooligan Wars, Shoreditch, London’s Burning (TV), Tank Malling, Shine On Harvey Moon (TV)
  • Lois Winstone: Traveller,  The Hot Potato, Basement, Beyond The Rave (TV)
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