Review: Daddy Issues

Written and directed by star Matt Campanella, co-directed by Stephanie Chloé Hepner, a young dominatrix encounters an unexpected client. Also starring: David Kelsey and Milan Anderson.

Coincidence will always be a powerful tool in cinema and especially in comedy, creating something unexpected is forever satisfying to watch. Matt Campanella’s writing builds its story around one key coincidence and it works really well, it’s likely only a small portion of the audience will predict where it’s headed. Its sense of humour can be a touch blunt at times but it’s effective and funny. There’s a tone to it that feels like the classic American style of comedy.

One of the other elements which can be either underestimated or filmmakers can struggle to strike the right balance, is adding a serious undertone to score the humour. A great way to achieve that, and both are aspects used by Daddy Issues, are with atmospheric direction and cinematography, and topping your film with a score that has weight to it, in this case with a classical edge. The opening has a fantastic amount of depth to capture that atmospheric feel, the aesthetic is textured and the way that it holds itself says so much and provokes so many questions, before it has revealed anything.

Those elements are then supported with some strong editing work which does a great job of pushing the film forward. It’s all taking place within a short amount of time but feels like it covers a decent amount of ground. Then you have the performances, firstly from writer, director Campanella who portrays a quintessential, young, gay man. It has the sexual fluidity, the confidence, a vivid personality and a touch of brash. The focus definitely lies with Campanella’s Oliver but David Kelsey and Milan Anderson nicely add to the awkwardness of the story. It strikes a note that’s not quite to the point of cringeworthy, which is surprising given how the story unfolds, capturing the perfect amount.

Daddy Issues is an excellently shot, funny and satisfying short film. The writing is simple and effective, centring itself around one pivotal and entertaining moment. While the direction, cinematography and editing are all doing a wonderful job of layering the film and adding a surprisingly sincere feel to a film with a classic sense of humour. It’s only the third short from writer, director, actor Matt Campanella and clearly he has a lot of talent to offer.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Celebrating its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 2023

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