The feature debut of British director Daniel Wolfe (co-written and co-shot with his brother Matt), Catch Me Daddy (2014) is a small film that has made an impressively big noise wherever it has featured. Making an impression on its world premiere 2014 Cannes Film Festival, its star Sameena Jabeen Ahmed won an award at last year’s BFI London Film Festival for her portrayal of Laila, a young girl hiding out in a small Yorkshire town with her boyfriend (Connor McCarron).
The temporary peace is shattered when two groups of men hired by Laila’s disapproving father come to retrieve her, prompting a bloody and tense chase. “This will end very badly,” a cab driver prophesises midway through this chase through the night, a prediction that almost underlines the intentions of the film. Coming from a music video background, the Wolfes tell their story through visuals. The camera draws in closely on the relatively mundane but precious calm moments (such Aaron painting Laila’s nails) before pulling out and watching more sinister moments from afar, stripping the story of all but the most crucial of exposition, but never leaving the audience in any doubt as to the intentions of both the pursued and the pursuers.
The intensity is relentless and seeps through to every element of the film. The characters speak fast- paced and in a variety of dialects and languages, with the deliberate ambiguity creating uncertainty that at times can be unbearable. A cat-and-mouse pursuit from the viewpoint of the mouse. Much of the cast is made up of first-time actors, with Ahmed and McCarron both making their debuts. This lack of experience, or perhaps the nature of the story, draws unguarded performances from the both of them. Neither overplay the characters’ predicaments, with a prolonged stare from Ahmed often doing the job of several pages of dialogue. Similarly, the dynamics of the two chasing packs quietly develop over time, in particular abrasive hired thug Barry (Barry Nunney), intimidating his way across Yorkshire with his reluctant, drug addicted partner (Gary Lewis). Catch Me Daddy’s stubborn refusal to mix any light in this tale takes its toll towards the end, as it becomes abundantly clear that an emotionally satisfying conclusion is unlikely. Nevertheless, it is a startling, bold and confident debut that stands out from the crowd thanks as a simple but intelligent and gripping piece. An impressive calling card for both writer and director, whose follow up will be keenly awaited by the fans this debut has already amassed.
James Luxford | @JLFilm