Tracker Pixel for Entry

Father Figures: Hall takes a ride in feature debut ‘Daddio’

Cinema | July 7th, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Originally conceived by writer-director Christy Hall as a stage play, the movie “Daddio” premiered in September of 2023 at the Telluride Film Festival. Featuring Dakota Johnson and Sean Penn as the only two significant characters with spoken dialogue in a credited cast of four (a curbside valet connects rider to car and we briefly glimpse a little girl in an adjacent vehicle), the story traces a late-night, near real-time journey from JFK to a destination in midtown Manhattan. Client and chauffeur have never met before – but an intimate connection will be forged. Playwright Hall, making her feature directorial debut, gets the most mileage (pun intended) from the two magnetic stars, who are called upon to use pauses, looks, and silences to add layers of meaning beyond the words they say to one another.

Many memorable films have relied on the cab as a setting to convey intense drama. Terry Malloy’s reckoning with his brother Charley the Gent in “On the Waterfront” is more than just a contender for top honors, but Travis Bickle’s odyssey as God’s Lonely Man in “Taxi Driver” might split the arrow in the “Waterfront” bullseye. Later, Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi dazzled critics with separate, Tehran-based docufictions that would lead, in the case of the former, to charges of abuse and intellectual property theft brought against the director by performers/artists Mania Akbari and Amina Maher.

“Daddio” never approaches the next-level transcendence of these examples, but Hall’s ambitious attempt to electrify the intimate communication of people confined to the seats of driver and passenger is, for the most part, less claustrophobic and static than the single location would at first suggest. Hall conducted principal photography in only 16 days on a soundstage using the on-set virtual production model called “The Volume,” the technology that integrates high-definition LED panels to display fully immersive backgrounds. Used extensively in “The Mandalorian,” the system’s application in the production of “Daddio” is, according to “Collider,” its first execution in a “grounded drama.”

While Hall has insisted that the amateur shrink portrayed by Penn represents an authentic type of NYC driver for hire, the audience is required to suspend disbelief that a much younger woman passenger would allow a total stranger to engage in all kinds of deeply intimate and sexually charged talk requiring highly personal revelations and borderline invasive disclosures. In this sense, “Daddio” cannot entirely escape comparison to aspects of the HBO series “Taxicab Confessions,” particularly in regard to back-and-forth texting/sexting between Johnson’s “Girlie” and the older married man with whom she is romantically involved.

Hall carves out enough space for the viewer to recognize the triple reflection suggested by the title; Johnson’s character projects an acute awareness of the unhealthy relationship markers commonly affiliated with the pop psychology of so-called “daddy issues.” Our cabbie instantly sniffs out the marital status of Girlie’s mature lover. Penn’s often vulgar and chauvinistic pronouncements might inspire less self-possessed travelers to change drivers (or maybe even file sexual harassment complaints). By the end of this particular journey, however, Johnson has opened up to her confessor with a vulnerability that suggests a desire for the kind of father-daughter relationship she never thought possible. 

Recently in:

By Maddie Robinsonmaddierobi.mr@gmail.com This article discusses topics related to mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org. …

The life of a jockey straight from the horse's mouthBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comFor George Pineda, jockeying is a family tradition. But that legacy includes loss. “My uncles, Alvaro and Robert Pineda — one got killed in a…

Thursday, August 8, gates 5 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.Bluestem Amphitheater, 801 50th Avenue S., MoorheadFormed by guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer, upright bass player Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom, The Stray Cats…

Recovering from PennsylvaniaBy John Strandjas@hpr1.com Holy shit, America! Is this a path we want to stay on? Is this the tipping point or brink we’re at? Is it a sign of more to come, or a come to Jesus moment where we decide…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comHow can anyone be lonely with eight billion homo sapiens on Earth?The world seems to be in the throes of a PTSD pandemic. Even the price of happiness is going way up. Back in 2010 two Nobel Prize…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

HPR chats with Slug of the hip-hop duo AtmosphereBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comWhen Sean Daley, also known as Slug, the voice of Twin Cities-based hip hop duo Atmosphere and co-founder of rap label Rhymesayers was growing up,…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.com Writer-director Nicole Riegel’s sophomore feature “Dandelion” is now playing in theaters following a world premiere at South by Southwest in March. The movie stars KiKi Layne as the…

New Minnesota sculptures include artist’s largest trollBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com According to Danish artist and environmental activist Thomas Dambo, “All trash is treasure.” So far, he and his team have built 138…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Madeline Lukemzlnd@yahoo.com About 100 years ago the state of agriculture in North Dakota was pretty dire. Minnesota banks, grain mills, and railroads treated ND as a colony; they extracted our labor and natural resources for…