Catch Me Daddy has premiered in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight, and so far, the critical reception’s looking pretty good. “Here is a flawed but interesting feature debut from former music video director Daniel Wolfe, co-writing with his brother Matthew,” begins the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw. “It is a grimly nihilist drama based on the murderous phenomenon of the ‘honor killing’ in British Pakistani communities. (Howefarmstn) When Laila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) runs away to live with her boyfriend Aaron (Conor McCarron) on a caravan on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors, her family refuse to tolerate it, and hire a posse of tough guys—both white and South Asian—to get her back; it’s a little like John Ford‘s The Searchers, although the comparison is not stressed.”
“What first feels like a Yorkshire spin on Bruno Dumont‘s drab, unadorned portraits of northern France later takes on the tones and movement of a thriller,” writes Time Out’s Dave Calhoun. “There are some clichés here of the socially aware, northern-set British film—a scraggy pony, fires in barrels, a hawk, bits of wasteland. But mostly the Wolfe brothers, working with the great Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank, Philomena), offer us a view of this pitiless story that feels fresh and immediate.”
“Wolfe shoots the Yorkshire landscape like the setting of a long-decayed fairy-tale,” writes the Telegraph‘s Robbie Collin. “The towns are crumbling and dark, while the moors stretch out between them like a fusty, moth-chewed blanket—shades of Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant here, and [Andrea] Arnold’s Wuthering Heights…. Ahmed makes a blistering first impression here, holding the camera’s gaze with wide, trembling eyes, and is ideally paired with the effortlessly sharp McCarron, whose own break came in Peter Mullan’s 2010 film Neds.”
“Although the film is never less than gripping, the story beats of the chase rely on a number of coincidental encounters,” notes Charles Gant in Variety, “while the abundance of main characters and their unpredictable natures can make them seem a bit light on psychological investigation. Complicated action scenes—such as Laila’s escape after a nightclub brawl—are not the film’s strongest suit, but ample compensations render any such shortcomings as minor flaws.”
“It’s in Catch Me Daddy‘s small touches… that Wolfe most impresses,” finds Ed Frankl at CineVue: “Laila and Aaron play-fighting while the pursuers drive for miles to reach them; or an extended scene when Laila and Aaron get high and dance crazily to Patti Smith’s Horses as if to amplify a calm before an impending storm.”
All in all, Catch Me Daddy “covers similar territory to Shan Khan’s recent UK theatrical release Honour but with much more cinematic flair and dramatic credibility,” finds Screen‘s Allan Hunter.
Update, 5/17: “Like many of the best DPs, darkness seems to interest Ryan as much as light as his career’s developed,” writes Oliver Lyttelton at the Playlist, “and the stunning, twi-lit work he does here might be his best ever. The score, by Matthew Wolfe and ambient musician Daniel Thomas Freeman, is also excellent, although song cues seem a little more randomly assembled.” Still, Wolfe is “a director with enormous promise, one who could join the likes of Wheatley, Arnold and Peter Strickland in this new wave of British directors.”
Update, 5/18: “It’s never overplayed, or crudely exploited, but the increasingly palpable hostility between the white hit men and their Asian employers gives the film an explosive vitality that marks Wolfe and his co-writer brother, Matthew, as serious talents,” writes Adam Woodward at Little White Lies.