Film Reviews
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

A professional young woman known only as Girlie hires Clark’s yellow taxi from JFK international airport to her Manhattan apartment. During the trip, Girlie and Will Clark become wholly involved in deep, intimate conversations, as sometimes happens between two strangers who feel safer in a car with no anticipated future contact. Both reveal profoundly multifaceted, emotional truths.

Writer/director Christy Hall was creating stage plays when she immersed herself in the script for “Daddio,” which started out as a theater project. At this past year’s Telluride Film Festival where I first saw the film, Hall describes the interaction as highlighting and emphasizing “the power of human connection, especially now.” She adds that “we’ve lost the art of talking to each other, especially those that don’t see the world exactly the way we do.” She also knows that “even a perfect stranger has the power to change our lives.”

Hall describes Girlie and Clark’s interaction as treading the fine line between drama and dark humor, which it certainly does, touching on painful and pleasurable aspects of their lives through verbal prodding and provocation. Shot in a quick sixteen days, the film’s success depends primarily on its cast of two superb actors: Dakota Johnson and Sean Penn. who make this a riveting hour forty minutes. When they encounter highway roadblocks, their conversation progresses from casual banter to painful revelations as Clark intuits Girlie’s crisis involves a married man, hence the title “Daddio”—she has daddy issues. That most of their revelations revolve around sex keeps this more limited than their fuller lives encompass, as compelling as Girlie’s predicament is. Nevertheless, the sexist world Girlie must navigate becomes clear.

In an interview for Telluride, director Hall says, “We’re so hard on women. And women are so hard on themselves . . . we don’t take the time to ask ourselves the really hard questions. That’s where this play started to manifest. This story is a portrait of a modern woman contending with the pains of her past.” Delivering this physically and emotionally claustrophobic world with technical expertise, cinematographer Phedon Papamichael renders the taxi’s restricted space in gorgeous colors, with subdued, dramatic lighting. Dickon Hinchliffe’s piano score complements emotions without becoming overbearing. “Daddio” will certainly prompt after-screening discussions and is available now.

Related Articles

Sign Up for KDHX Airwaves newsletter