Writer and Director: Eitan Green
A marriage in trouble, surprising adult behaviours and a woman on the edge of emotional collapse greets a grandfather when he arrives from Israel to visit his adult daughter and ger baby living in Paris. Eitan Green’s My Daughter, My Love screening at the UK Jewish Film Festival 2023, begins as a light detective story but becomes an exploration of a father-daughter relationship and inappropriate responses, but it fails to address or even acknowledge questions of post-natal depression that could have set this apart.
Shimon is distressed to see his beloved daughter Alma failing to connect with baby Davidi and her husband, spending hours outside of the apartment or showing her frustration with them. When Shimon believes that her partner is the cause of Alma’s woes, he ropes in his best friend to follow him, only to discover that the situation is quite different to the one he had imagined.
Green’s film establishes Shimon as a concerned and loving father and grandfather right from the start. Taking his point of view fairly consistently throughout the film, the warmth of the character obviously informs the assumptions he makes and the action he takes as a result. And there is plenty of engagement in Shimon’s quiet determination to discover the truth as well as the effect it ultimately has on him, which challenges his understanding of his daughter and leaves him relatively powerless to help her.
But My Daughter, My Love actively ignores the big question about Alma’s dissatisfaction and how her obsessive activities may stem from mental health changes resulting from the birth of her baby. The feeling of being trapped and disengaged in addition to seeking validation elsewhere feel symptomatic of a larger shift in Alma’s life that destabilises all of her relationships, yet Green plays the plot points without providing a convincing reason for them. And as the only substantial female role in the movie, it is a shame to make her difficulties so two-dimensional.
Sasson Gabay is excellent as Shimon, defending his family and still trying to parent his adult child when she needs it most, while a scene where he is pushed to react more forcefully is credible. There is some good comic support from friend played by Albert Iluz who helps to lighten the tone while Sivan Levy’s Alma, though lightly drawn, is appropriately detached and determined to follow her own path, certain she is right.
It is a pity that My Daughter, My Love ends abruptly on a rather ambiguous note, one that could even imply that Alma was telling the truth all along and help to correct the rather unsympathetic portrayal of women who takes a selfish course of action at great cost to her child. The final 15-minutes of the film need to be recast to better explain the experience that Alma has and how the odd behaviour of her tutor fits with a possibly different narrative that starts to emerge in these final moments. But My Daughter, My Love needed to explore that option much sooner to ultimately give the character of Shimon the outcome he deserves.
My Daughter, My Love is screening at the UK Jewish Film Festival 2023.