Daniel’s Daughter comes to DVD with star Laura Leighton back in the spotlight. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty dim spotlight. Fans of Melrose Place may be happy to see her, but that happiness will be short-lived when they also realize what a flat-lined EKG her film turns out to be.It seems as though the emotional pulses of this film never rise above comatose, relating a love story that doesn’t deliver and characters that were dead on arrival with the first page of the script. Something feels off about the whole affair. The sets are gorgeous. The actors are capable. The story appears heartfelt. But that’s before it’s all set in motion. Overly melodramatic and flatly rendered, Daniel’s Daughter is a made-for-television movie in the worst sense of the term, whether it wants to be or not.
The story begins in the early eighties, though you couldn’t tell it if not for the title at the onset. Little Katherine and her family – Mom, father Daniel, Daniel’s quarreling best friends – are at the county fair taking a family picture. In the next scene, viewers discover Little Katherine’s mother has passed away, and her father is leaving her in relatives’ care until he can find a good job, and they can start a new life together. She never sees him again. She only hears from him after his death. He’s arranged to have his ashes shipped to her. Adult Katherine (Leighton) is now a successful magazine editor in New York on the verge of a loveless marriage with a lifeless business mogul. Reluctantly, she leaves her wedding planning for a few days and returns home to fulfill her father’s dying wish – that his ashes be sprinkled on the hill where her mother is buried.
Once home, she reconnects with old friends, attempts to reunite her father’s best friends, who haven’t spoken in years, and meets someone she finds herself falling for. It is unfortunate these characters have so little on-screen chemistry. Dialogue delivery barely exceeds a whisper through the film’s entirety. As if Leighton and company are as unenthused as the audience surely is. Do yourself a favor. Stick with similarly themed, yet far superior films, such as P.S. I Love You and Sweet Home Alabama (of which Daniel’s Daughter borrows from the most heavily).
There is nothing flawed in the 1.66:1 widescreen presentation. The image is sharp. Colors shine with a barley-like glow. The only real star of the show is the gleaming production design and settings used, most of which are located in the idyllic small town where Little Katherine grew up. There are a few scenes in Adult Katherine’s world, but they never go beyond a tiny office room or two. (Probably budget issues.)
The audio track is in 5.1 English, but it never tests its limits. The only exercise comes in dialogue scenes, which rarely makes use of the seemingly higher volume levels. You won’t find it difficult hearing the characters speaking, but the monotonous tones of nearly every performer fail to impress. It could have done just as well with monaural or 2.0 tracks.
No special features are included.
Daniel’s Daughter is a well-meaning film, but it never achieves any of its goals. The only positive thing to be said is that it’s an okay movie to look at, and at only 90 minutes, doesn’t run too long. There is also nothing objectionable for family viewing – only a story that goes nowhere, and performers that could care less where the script leads them. The A/V presentation is serviceable. The extras are non-existent. If you were planning to catch it on TV, the release is worth it for the simple fact it cuts out the commercials. If not, feel free to take a pass. You won’t be missing anything.