Laila, a girl on the run from her family is hiding out in West Yorkshire with her drifter boyfriend Aaron. When her brother arrives in town with a gang of thugs in tow, she is forced to flee for her life and faces her darkest night.
The debut feature from Daniel Wolfe, ‘Catch Me Daddy’, is a gritty thriller that tackles the challenging subject of honour killing within the Muslim community. It stars newcomer Sameena Jabeen Ahmed as Laila, a teenage girl on the run with her boyfriend (Connor McCarron), hiding out somewhere in West Yorkshire when her brother, his friends and some thugs her father have hired set out to track them down. To an extent the film reminded me of Terrence Malick’s ‘Badlands’, although replacing poetic with gritty. This is a film that has no qualms about going to some fairly dark places in expanding on its themes, with sporadic examples of extreme violence emphasising how a situation can get out of hand when the stakes are high.
The film is very authentic and naturalistic, with characters speaking and behaving like real people. Director Daniel Wolfe does a terrific job with the film’s setting as he gets a real sense of location in working class Yorkshire, perfectly capturing the types of people that live and work in these small towns. One of the scenes that captures this best is the interactions Laila has with another teenager selling milkshakes in a small café, which has a very improvised and unscripted feel to the dialogue and the performances. This is an example of the memorable performances throughout the film, from the biggest part down to the smallest. We get the sense that the place Laila and Aaron are hiding out in is small, and this emphasises the danger when her brother and the gang of thugs come to town and start knocking on doors to track them down. This creates a tense and thrilling experience for the audience as Laila and Aaron try to stay one step ahead of the people literally hunting them down.
The performance at the centre of the film from Sameena Jabeen Ahmed is a truly astonishing debut, perfectly playing Laila’s naivety (and perhaps stupidity at times) and showing us a young girl who has made a decision without thinking through the consequences. One of the interesting themes that the film explores is that Laila is very much a victim of the circumstances and the people around her, with a group of men from her boyfriend, to her brother, to her dad, dictating the choices she makes. This lack of agency enhances the tragedy of the situation Laila finds herself in, with the foolish behaviour of the men surrounding her serving to make a bad situation worse. The supporting cast are all excellent as well, with perhaps the most familiar face the most impressive (Gary Lewis – known most for his role as ‘Billy Elliot’s’ dad in the titular film). His world weary character, Tony, is like a wounded animal full of pent up rage, a cocaine addict who is desperate for money and will do whatever is required to get it. The film also features a terrific, evocative soundtrack that matches perfect song choices to each situation
‘Catch Me Daddy’ is a superb debut feature from Daniel Wolfe, an authentic, gritty thriller that takes on lofty themes and does them justice. It certainly marks Wolfe and his lead actress Ahmed out for big things in the future.
Directed By: Daniel Wolfe
Starring: Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Connor McCarron, Gary Lewis, Barry Nunney, Adrian Hussain, Anwar Hussain, Ali Ahmad, Shoby Kaman, Wasim Zakir and Kate Dickie