Lena Dunham & Stephen Fry Are Great In Drama That Doesn’t Get Us Where It Wants To Go


  • Family road trips unravel deeper emotions in Treasure, as Ruth and Edek navigate grief and trauma in Poland.
  • Lena Dunham and Stephen Fry excel in portraying a complex father-daughter relationship with touching and heady performances.
  • Despite good intentions, Treasure struggles to fully explore emotional themes, leaving poignant moments unfulfilled.

Family road trips are a pain no matter what. Using a family road trip to unpack the grief and trauma left behind in the wake of death complicates things further. In 1991 Poland, Ruth (Lena Dunham) meets her Polish father Edek (Stephen Fry) to visit the place he’s from and where he lived for much of his life before World War II upended it.

Treasure seems stuck between two places, a father-daughter road trip comedy and a deeper meditation on grief, the past, and the way a trauma like the Holocaust is passed down through generations. There’s no reason it can’t be both, but in its balancing act, it ends up shaky on both fronts.

Stephen Fry & Lena Dunham Are A Perfect Pair

The two actors are Treasure’s greatest strength

Dunham is already the queen of awkward comedy — her stint as Hannah Horvath on Girls, a series she created, wrote, and sometimes directed, cemented her as a divisive icon of early 2010s culture. Fry has a slew of comedic and dramatic credits to his name. Here, he gets to flex both muscles: Edek is a gruff man, consumed by grief and lost within himself. His desire to avoid looking too deeply into his past is both part of his humorous charm and the bane of Ruth’s existence.

Edek often tells the people they encounter — drivers, bell boys, hotel concierges — that his daughter is famous, but Ruth is just a journalist who interviews famous people sometimes. The distinction doesn’t matter to him, though, even if it does to Ruth. Dunham plays the disconnect between Ruth and Edek well. Ruth indulges her father to a point, but it’s clear that, in having different ideas of what this trip back to Poland should be, they are at more of a crossroads than he realizes.

Treasure’s Emotional Story Gets Lost Somewhere Along The Way

Some emotional moments struggle to land

It’s fruitless to compare emotional pain, but Treasure makes it clear that both Ruth and Edek are hurting in different ways. Ruth resorts to self-harm, Edek resorts to brushing emotion off with his gregarious personality. In brushing it off, though, we don’t get to dive deeper into their pain. We know why they both hurt, but Treasure doesn’t seem to know what to do with their pain. It’s fitting considering that neither Edek nor Ruth do either.

They hold on to this pain because it’s all they’ve known; Edek, ruminating on his past, Ruth, still reeling from her divorce and the loss of her mother. The physical objects we hold on to represent a certain sadness, too, and much of Treasure is about getting back items lost in time. And really, does a silver bowl matter, in the grand scheme of things, just because your mother used it? Whether we want to admit it, it ultimately does.

Dunham and Fry both give great performances, a study in contrasts that is touching and heady, but the surrounding story doesn’t dig in the way it needs to.

If only Treasure could get us where it wants us to go. It has all the right elements, but something’s missing in the way it explores these themes. Dunham and Fry’s performances are a study in contrasts, touching and heady, but the surrounding story doesn’t dig in the way it needs to. There are great moments in the quiet of Treasure, the scenes where director Julia von Heinz’s camera lingers on a look, an item, or a landscape. But Treasure finds itself stuck in the middle of these tender moments and a heavy-handed way with emotion that has good intentions but doesn’t land the same.

Treasure had its premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival.

Treasure, directed by Julia von Heinz, stars Lena Dunham as Ruth, an American music journalist, and Stephen Fry as her father Edek, a Holocaust survivor. Set in 1990, the film follows Ruth and Edek as they travel through Poland, visiting his childhood haunts.


  • Lena Dunham and Stephen Fry make for a dream pairing.
  • The story at the heart of Treasure brings up thoughtful questions about grief, trauma, and the passage of time.

  • Treasure feels stuck in the middle of two tones.
  • Emotional revelations aren’t as weighty as they could be.

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