Who the monster is, and what makes them monstrous, is too good to spoil, and you’ll be hard-pushed to guess: the candidates certainly seem innocuous enough, if not particularly likeable. There’s teenage Valeria (Ana Valeria Becerril), a selfish teenager who’s just become pregnant by her handsome doltish boyfriend Mateo (Enrique Arrizon). They live with Valeria’s lumpen and melancholy half-sister Clara (Joanna Larequi), partying and lounging around, until the girls’ mother April (Emma Suárez) returns from god knows where.
April is a free spirit, a sexy hippy with ambitions to make yoga instruction videos. Her reaction to Valeria’s pregnancy is blithe, although problems soon emerge – Valeria is clearly not ready for parenthood. After the birth, she and Mateo struggle to muster up the inclination (let alone the energy) to dedicate themselves to full-time parenthood. Frustratingly, Valeria’s father (April’s ex) stubbornly refuses to get involved – but perhaps he knows something about the people involved that keeps him at a safe distance?
Eventually, the adults intervene and Mateo’s parents reluctantly join forces with April to adopt the baby. It’s at this point that April’s Daughter finally sheds its guise as a sedate domestic drama, and the audience’s gasp at the turn of events could be mistaken for a sigh of relief: things finally become as interesting as they could be.
Franco’s film-making is detached, and some might find it cold. But by refraining from a more emotive style, and denying his audience familiar cues to the sort of film April’s Daughter is, he makes his film feel genuinely unpredictable. It also makes the narrative histrionics more credible, giving the more Jeremy Kyle aspects of the film an art-house respectability.
Perhaps April’s Daughter is simply that: a tasty melodrama with an arty garnish, served cold. But Franco knows how to prepare such a film in just the right way and saves the best cuts until last.
|What||April's Daughter film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
20 May 17 – 20 Mar 19, Times Vary
|Price||£Determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|