Daffodils {Melbourne International Film Festival} – Film Review

I have seen many musical films in my time, but none of them struck me emotionally the way that Daffodils did. This latest stage to film adaptation stands out from the long list of films in this genre. After the original New Zealand stage production took out numerous awards, including the Scotsman Fringe First Award in 2016, writer Rochelle Bright and with direction from David Stubbs sought to reimagine this incredibly heart breaking love story for the big screen.

The original stage production is set as a play with a live band performing quintessentially iconic New Zealand music from Crowded House, Bic Runga and The Swingers just to name a few. The film flips this play into a musical with Rose McIver starring as Rose, George Mason as Eric and co-starring Kimbra as daughter Maisie. Based on actual events, Daffodils is set with minimal dialogue and lets the lyrics and incredible local music tell the story.

The film opens with daughter Maisie by her dying father’s bedside in hospital and has to run off to perform at a gig, however after being told of how he met her mother, Rose, Maisie can’t help but feel distracted and emotional as she hits the stage with her band. As Maisie plays her set, her father’s love story is told through her eyes and the film flashes back to where Eric first meets Rose amongst the Daffodils on a cold stormy night. It is when Eric offers Rose a lift home that their story begins.

George Mason and Rose McIver are equally fantastic in this film. Their musical capability and ability to portray emotions through the power of song are simply outstanding and their performances are only heightened by the perfectly matched song choices. From the uplifting Counting the Beat (The Swingers) to the heart breaking rendition of Fall at Your Feet (Crowded House) this film really strikes all emotions and strikes some of them really hard.

I went into this film not knowing anything about this incredible love story, and I am glad I was able to experience it. I started out all happy and elated watching Eric and Rose fall in love, then it turned to frustration and anger as I slowly witnessed their relationship unravel. Personally, as the kind of person that likes to speak my mind, I found myself biting my tongue, wanting to scream out at the screen in frustration. No film has ever made me feel this way and even as I write this, I’m feeling frustrated all over again. Frustration not from the film being bad, but from the actions of the characters and how their story was unfolding before my eyes. Daffodils is all about love, heartbreak and more importantly – communication. And I loved it.

I would like to thank the writer Rochelle Bright for sharing this incredibly personal story, about her own parents, with everyone at MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival) this year. I’m sure it isn’t easy revisiting this story over and over again. David Stubbs directed this adaptation wonderfully. I have yet to see the stage production, however during the MIFF Q&A after the film with Bright and Stubbs, we were told the film is very different to its theatre counterpart, but in a good way.

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