by Cat McAlpine
Henrietta (Kimberley Datnow) is fumbling through life as an almost stand-up comedian in her mid-20s. She’s not very tactful, she’s definitely a mess, and she can’t address a group of people without holding a prop microphone (or pencil). Also, her dad just died.
Skyping into her father’s funeral with her one-night stand in tow seems like the tip of Henrietta’s daddy issues iceberg.
But we never learn about Henrietta’s father or her relationship with him. He leaves her his LA home, trusts her with a board position at his company, and writes her an ominous letter threatening that if she can’t turn things around, his whole life will have been wasted. Henri proceeds to drink and smoke her way through the rest of the film, bumbling about without making too many revelations or relationships.
Penned by John Cox and Amy Datnow, the story follows three different college friends as they try to figure out what they want. Henrietta is taking another stab at comedy. Alice (Alice Carroll Johnson) waffles in her relationship and tries to find a new career in the gig economy. Nolan (Tanner Rittenhouse) has taken 5 years to finish a deck project and can’t get his girlfriend to take him seriously. While all three characters build relationships with one another, they rarely connect to discuss or help with each other’s struggles. This general lack of connection and fluidity plagues the whole of Daddy Issues.
The story lacks momentum. Moments meant to be absurd or wacky stay dry, shot and edited with the same pace as the lonely and sad portions of the film. The funniest moments are often small asides that feel like improv from secondary characters.
Director Laura Holliday’s experience is mainly in shorts, as you might guess. She focuses well on small moments, like a brewing cup of tea, but loses pace in bigger scenes.
Daddy Issues spends too much time being lost in itself, and we miss most of the resolutions. Other important moments come too late in the story and feel rushed. While it skillfully captures the essence of being at a loss with what comes next, the film suffers from the same nervous halting as its protagonists.