Written and directed by Matthew Kyle Levine, a retired executive falls in love with a young woman who is the same age as his daughter. Starring: Natasa Babic, Daniel Martin Berkey, Gina Holden, Kelley Heyer and Alexandra Lenore.
The style of this film comes out the gate running, it’s not playing it safe, it’s going down a bold route and it’s a risky move to take with a tone such as this. It’s harshly real, grim and a touch gross, it’s not glamourising the reality of the consequences of an elderly gentleman living an especially indulgent lifestyle. You’ll either like it or you won’t, it’s a divisive choice but at the same time it can’t be denied that there’s a consistency, confidence and atmosphere to it. The colour palette uses a lot of similar dark hues, allowing the cinematography to capture that slight coldness to it. The whole air to it plays with discomfort, it’s not violent or overtly sexual, it comes simply from a blunt but fair reality, it will make you cringe and knows it.
However, all of that style then needs to be backed up with a story that justifies it, a reason to why you should enjoy it’s unforgiving eyes and yet, there isn’t really one. It follows a fairly predictable path of realising your worth to other people and putting what matters in jeopardy for something fleeting and vapid. The key element that’s missing is a charisma, sympathy or presence in the lead role to give you something to hold onto, the character is not a good guy and he’s very much lacking in the charm department. Ultimately, there just isn’t a tangible aim or goal to perceive from the story and the style, you can’t quite grasp what it’s trying to say, if it has truly a message or what emotions it was trying to illicit.
To Berkey’s credit, ‘Daddy’ is a fairly detestable character and he gets that across perfectly; he’s entirely unlikeable and hits a number of clichés for aging men but at the same time does still feel individual. The other characters do get a look in but undoubtedly the focus stays strongly on Berkey’s protagonist. Babic is great as his wife, she brings a huge dose of emotion to nicely play against the film’s coldness and it’s a shame you don’t get to see more from her. Holden and Heyer both do a solid job, their characters don’t really get the chance to be fleshed out but the performances do exactly what they need to.
Daddy’s Wallet is blunt, harsh and grim, it presents an entirely unfiltered reality, going more for a punch in the gut than a subtle drama. The performances are strong, the direction is consistent and clear in its style but the atmosphere it sets isn’t then accompanied by a story to justify its very frank lens. This feels like a step in the right direction for filmmaker Matthew Kyle Levine from his previous short Miss Freelance but there’s still some work to be done to really bring everything together.