On a recent visit to much loved art house haunt, Odeon Panton Street, I had the pleasure of taking in a brutal yet thought provoking British Crime Drama which had me on the edge of my seat right until the very end.
Catch Me Daddy is a ripped-from-the-headlines cat and mouse story about a young desperate couple on the run and in hot pursuit by a pack of ruthless hooligans. The couple consist Laila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed), a puffy eyed, pink haired rebel and her jobless, drug abusing boyfriend Aaron (Connor McCarron). She sweeps floors by day in a local hairdressers; he bums around at home smoking weed. You get the picture.
Laila, like many young Pakistani girls living up north, is the product of an overbearing family, who loathe the fact that she is dating a white boyfriend and seek to avenge it with an honour killing. On instruction from her ruthless father, she’s tailed by thugs of various shapes and sizes: a close-to home motley crew of Asian thugs, led by her brother Zaheer (Ali Ahmad); backed up a menacing duo of white meatheads (Barry Nunney and Gary Lewis).
The setting for this grim tale of gender politics and religion gone wrong are the Yorkshire Moors- suitably chosen for the emptiness and gloom they inspire. Our first introduction to them comes with a Ted Hughes poem, read aloud by a half Northern/half Asian narrator: “A great bird landed here / Its song drew men out of rock. / Living men out of bog and heather.” Originally written about an old church Hughes once visited, it sets the perfect tone for a film which drops a bombshell of panic and fear on a plot of wasteland.
This is Bronte’s Yorkshire re-imagined as a urban wasteland of roadside takeaways, small uninviting pubs and shoddily painted street signs. Capturing it is highly talented cinematographer, Robbie Ryan, famous for contributions to the works of Andrea Arnold and Ken Loach. Here, Ryan blends low key lighting, expressionist imagery and panoramic views to depict world which is both empty and hyperreal. Interestingly, in his attempts to render the Yorkshire Moors bleak and miserable, he captures a curious sense beauty within poverty- nail painting for example takes on a bohemian charm under his gaze, while loading up a bong is recognised for having a careful craftsman like precision to it.
Also worthy of mention is his use of predatory symbolism to reinforce the sense of a hunt. This includes snake in a glass cabinet, lizards, and a bird of prey feasting on young flesh. The bird sequence is especially interestingly for depiction of cannabilism, which I took to symbolise honour killing- as the barbaric act of anhilating one’s own. Similarily to the predators they’re compared to, Laila’s hunters are gargoyle- like in apperance, lack morals and are ruled by their baser instincts.
In addition to its rich cinematography, the film carries an eclectic score: a mish mesh of rock, pop, ambient and hip hop to further exaggerate the culture clashing and sensory disorientation explored. For me, the stand out song in this film is Patti Smith’s Horses, which brings with it a hallucinogenic sequence of twists, turns and headbangs as Laila dances in tune.
Although bleak in it’s true to life depiction of working class life up north, this film isn’t without its incidental humour, which ranges, a petty squabble over cocaine, to the haphazard preparation of a milkshake in a local candy shop.
For all it’s grim, grit and black humour, Catch Me Daddy has proved bold debut for newcomer directors, the Wolfe Brothers. Its characters are believable, its story suspenseful, its tone subversive and above all its beautifully shot. Catch it while it’s still in cinemas!