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Directors: Daniel and Matthew Wolfe
Starring: Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Connor McCarron, Gary Lewis
Running time: 112 minutes
When a film opens with shots of a bleak caravan park in West Yorkshire, you know you're not going to be in for a fun ride. In Catch Me Daddy, that premonition wouldn't be false.
The debuting director-brothers Daniel and Matthew Wolfe take on the classic story of the star-crossed lovers, infusing the film with the stark reality of 'honour' killings. Leila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed), a young Pakistani girl, is hunted down by her father's family after running away with an English boy, Aaron (Connor McCarron), and the word 'hunted' is meant quite literally. Before these tragic events unfold, we get glimpses of vitality and spirit in Leila's life, for example, in a fantastic dance scene to Patti Smith's 'Horses' in Leila and Aaron's tacky caravan (choreographed by the singer FKA Twigs), echoing the pulsating dance scene to Rihanna's 'Diamonds' from Girlhood, by French director Celine Sciamma. The Wolfe brothers find a fine balance between ethereal nature shots of the Yorkshire moors and social realism in the primary section of the film, something they perhaps also have artistically 'borrowed' from Sciamma, and also Andrea Arnold. We can see the resonances of Arnold in the cinematography as well, with Robbie Ryan (who worked on Fish Tank with Arnold) managing to make everything, from a bottle of spilled nail varnish to a neon-lit kebab shop, look artistic.
However, before the film becomes a poignant look at life and love in West Yorkshire, the violence instigated by Leila's family explodes to its full extent, transforming Catch Me Daddy into a harrowing thriller, with the added twist of the atmosphere of an American western. Leila and Aaron must run for their lives, engaging in a deadly game of hide-and-seek with Leila's uncle and his violent companions, which, unsurprisingly, doesn't end well. The climax of the film is vicious and blood-curdling, and the faint-hearted might want to fiddle with their phones in the heat of the brutality.
These elements make the film a visceral experience, as there is a virtual lack of dialogue, at least for this reviewer, who had a difficult time understanding the impenetrable Yorkshire accents. Daniel Wolfe's background in music videos benefits the film's atmosphere, as the soundtrack and the ghostly images seamlessly meld together, perhaps making dialogue the least important element in the film.
Although this film may sound hard to swallow, don't be afraid to become immersed in the surreal world of violence of Catch Me Daddy. Just plunge right in and let yourself be impressed by this stunning debut picture.
To book tickets to see Catch Me Daddy at York City Screen Picturehouse, go here.