Catch Me Daddy

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In the wide expanse of the smokey and unforgiving Yorkshire moors, love and family loyalty are tested in Daniel and Matthew Wolfe’s debut feature Catch Me Daddy – a stand out at last year’s London Film Festival.

Laila and Aaron, a young interracial couple, are lying low in hiding from the former’s family who condemn the British Pakistani girl’s relationship with this white male. For a short while we see Laila trying to sustain an independent life with her job at a local salon, and the two of them simply existing together isolated in their little caravan, drinking terrible hot chocolate or generally lying in easy silence. But there’s an edge to it, a sense that danger is literally just around the corner and very quickly their story is taken in the direction of them being the hunted prey. Set upon by two thuggish factions – one made up of Laila’s brother and family associates, the other of two white guys with local knowledge and connections hired to take part in the search – this cat and mouse game spirals out of control, taken to places neither one of the pair imagined it could go. A nighttime chase through the huge vacuous darkness of the desolate moors cements the thriller status of the film as it takes on a nightmarish quality.

Catch Me Daddy deals with the idea of love as something that is both innocent and destructive. We have no insight into the nature of Laila and Aaron’s relationship prior to the present day setting – how they met, how long they’ve been together, what they’ve been through up until the point when we meet them – which serves to reinforce the sense that everything is against them. They are almost like children in a scary, grown-up world where all the decisions are out of their hands. Even the dynamics of their relationship shifts at times as creeping suspicion, fear and anger mount. Laila’s brother seems to love her, but will not accept her. And her father, when they finally confront each other again, is caught in some kind of bizarre, dissociative tailspin, snapping back and forth between paternal nostalgia and deeply disturbing violence.

The Wolfe brothers build to a charged enigma of an ending, made all the more shocking by the fact that so hideous an event could be taking place in the back room of an innocuous restaurant on a quiet town street. To their credit, their writing maintains a good balance between being engaging and cinematic, whilst also even-handed. It highlights the horrors of the very real issue of honour killings without universally revelling in blame, and its narrative is straight down the line but with subtle complexities within the disparate chorus of relationships and personalities. Newcomer Sabeena Jabeen Ahmed is notably great at realising their vision, naturally embracing each fractured shift in Laila’s mental state.

Shot on 35mm tape by Robbie Ryan – director of photography for John Maclean’s Slow West, Sally Potter’s Ginger & Rosa and Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank – another film dealing with complex family ties and troubled youth – among many other brilliantly shot indies, he captures scenes that exude an element of beauty in their brutality whilst ultimately remaining woeful and exposed. The effect this has on the emotional depth of the narrative and how one as a viewer engages with it is hugely significant; every finite detail of the visuals become crucial to Laila’s story. In short, Catch Me Daddy is a quietly staggering contribution to indie British cinema – heart-stopping storytelling with the strength of incredible aesthetics and physical presence to match it till its bitter end.

Catch Me Daddy is out on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD now.

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