Ridley & Mendelsohn Uplift Tense, Gradual-Burn Drama


  • The Marsh King’s Daughter, directed by Neil Burger, is a slow-burn drama that facilities round childhood trauma and its lasting results, regardless of skipping over essential years within the protagonist’s life.
  • Daisy Ridley delivers a refined efficiency, conveying Helena’s ache and energy by means of her eyes, whereas Ben Mendelsohn exudes a quiet, menacing drive.
  • Though the movie lacks depth in exploring Helena’s story and has a sluggish center, it manages to take care of our curiosity and ramps up the strain, leaving us on the sting of our seats within the thrilling third act.



Neil Burger has directed a various slate of movies — from The Illusionist and Limitless to Divergent and The Marsh King’s Daughter, Burger’s newest starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn. The latter is a slow-burn drama that facilities childhood trauma and the methods it shapes somebody’s total life. The movie could be an intense thriller, and whereas it’s elevated by robust performances, it avoids focusing an excessive amount of on the important intervening years following the daughter’s escape, and the dawdling tempo prevents the narrative from absolutely being realized. Whereas it’s to the detriment of the story and a disservice to the characters, The Marsh King’s Daughter, tailored by Elle Smith and Mark L. Smith from the novel by Karen Dionne, manages to take care of our curiosity till the very finish.

Ten-year-old Helena (Brooklynn Prince) loves her father Jacob (Ben Mendelsohn), a hunter who’s dubbed the “marsh king” by the media. She desires to be taught from him, and she or he listens to all the pieces he has to inform her — be it about how one can monitor animals or why she’s not allowed to maintain a gun within the shed. Helena isn’t as near her mom (Caren Pistorius), however when a person stops by their cabin at some point asking for instructions out of the forest, she and her mom handle to efficiently escape from Jacob, who’s revealed to have kidnapped Helena’s mom 12 years earlier than. Jacob is caught and imprisoned for 20 years. As an grownup, Helena (now performed by Daisy Ridley) struggles with the load of her previous. Married with a daughter of her personal, Helena should combat to guard her household from her father after Jacob escapes jail.

Ben Mendelsohn in The Marsh King’s Daughter

Regardless of discovering the reality, alongside the violence and paranoia on the heart of Helena’s journey, The Marsh King’s Daughter underscores the nuance of such a lived expertise, and the issue of extricating the love felt by a toddler within the wake of a father’s horrific deeds. It’s finally the story of a survivor, and it’s on show in the way in which Helena is continually on edge, emotionally distant, and vigilant. The movie explores, at the very least to some extent, Helena’s trauma and its results on her life, the issue of adjusting to on a regular basis life, and coming to phrases together with her father being the abusive, controlling kidnapper her mom knew.

Daisy Ridley’s efficiency is refined. Her eyes dart at each noise, assess with each change, and maintain again a wealth of ache and emotion that Helena doesn’t appear so certain how one can start grappling with. Ridley additionally shows Helena’s quiet energy all through, fiercely defensive when the necessity requires it. Alternatively, Ben Mendelsohn is quietly terrifying, exuding a threatening drive that permeates the movie and any interactions with Ridley’s character. Brooklynn Prince, Gil Birmingham, and Garrett Hedlund are additionally good of their restricted supporting roles.

Gil Birmingham and Daisy Ridley in Marsh Kings Daughter
Gil Birmingham and Daisy Ridley in The Marsh King’s Daughter

What finally holds again The Marsh King’s Daughter is its lack of ability to dive deeper into Helena’s story. The movie skips over time after Helena’s escape, fast-forwarding to her grownup life. It creates a spot that’s deeply felt, particularly as we’re solely given snapshots of Helena’s life following her escape by means of dialogue between her and Birmingham’s Clark. Their interactions are intriguing however wanted extra to flesh them out fully. The third act saves the movie from a few of its plodding pacing points, leaving us with an exciting confrontation between Ridley and Mendelsohn that leaves us on the sting of our seats in anticipation.

The Marsh King’s Daughter isn’t notably memorable or particular, but it surely manages to carry our curiosity all through because it ramps up the strain. Even by means of a sluggish center, Burger’s movie has moments of depth, and it isn’t laborious to really feel Helena’s paranoia as she’s pressured to contend together with her previous because it actively impacts her current. The performances elevate a narrative that would have gone deeper, however is okay for what it’s attempting to be.

The Marsh King’s Daughter releases in theaters on November 3. The movie is 108 minutes lengthy and rated R for violence.

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