Saturday, May 22, 2010

Movie with Abe: Daddy Longlegs

Daddy Longlegs
Directed by Ben & Joshua Safdie
Released May 14, 2010

The main character in “Daddy Longlegs” is a father of two by the name of Lenny who is seen romancing multiple women in the span of the film’s first few minutes and who, for reasons that become readily clear, is no longer involved with his children’s mother. He constantly ends up in impossible situations which are mostly a result of a combination of bad luck and rudeness on his part. Lenny is someone who puts himself first and has not learned how to think about others in the way that he should. He tries desperately to act like a best friend to his kids rather than a role model, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he encounters considerable difficulty in even taking care of them for a mere two weeks.

It’s incredibly tough to watch a parent fail so miserably in acting as he should to his children, and this film certainly piles on the disturbing elements to no seeming end. Lenny sends his nine- and seven-year-old sons to shop at a grocery store in Manhattan all by themselves and wakes them up abruptly early on a weekend morning for an impromptu trip with his one night stand and her boyfriend upstate. Lenny has no concept of how to behave and how to act with his children – he swears in front of them and even directly at their school principal – and he doesn’t even seem to be making an effort. Being stretched too thin isn’t an excuse for Lenny’s conduct since he never even tries to prioritize his children and do right by them.

This portrait of bad parenting might be compelling if the film had something significant to offer in terms of cinematic or moral value, but like Lenny, it puts all its cards on the table and doesn’t quite know what to do with them. This is a strictly narrative film with no filmic devices such as angles or music in sight. The extremely low budget for which the film was produced is not compensated for by any creativity or artistic expression on the part of the filmmakers. Instead, it’s an intimate look at one person’s failures and the continually worsening state of his life. Everything is on the surface, with no subjective interpretations left to be discovered. As the fast-talking and flustered Lenny, Ronald Bronstein shapes a somewhat sympathetic character, but any kind of warm feelings go out the door as it becomes clear that Lenny, just like the movie, has no redeeming qualities.


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