Review | Neil Burger's 'The Marsh King's Daughter' is eerily beautiful

Neil Burger's film is an adaptation of Karen Dionne's 'The Marsh King's Daughter'. Movie still | Imdb

In Neil Burger's film adaptation of 'The Marsh King's Daughter' by Karen Dionne, the story revolves around the relationship between Jacob Holbrook (played by Ben Mendelsohn) and his daughter Helena (played by Brooklynn Prince & Daisy Ridley). Similar to how 'Marsh King' Jacob trains his daughter for a hunt, the film takes viewers on a thrilling journey through the marshlands of Michigan. With deliberate and suspenseful pacing, it immerses the audience in the dimly lit frames of this eerie landscape and the characters.

However, the film stumbles in its rush towards the climax, much like a young Helena who fails to make a kill, despite meticulously tracking a deer to the deep shadows of the pines due to her haste.

The heart of the film lies in the dynamic between Jacob and Helena. When they are on screen together, the cinematic experience shines. Unfortunately, Neil Burger sidelines other characters, such as Helena's mother (Caren Pistorius) and her daughter Marigold (Joey Carson), even though the narrative seems to demand a deeper exploration of these relationships. Neil leaves the triangle incomplete. 

The cinematography by Alwin H. Kuchler effectively conveys both pain and pleasure through shades of grey. Naomi Geraghty's editing, Tim Grimes' production design, and the sound department collectively create an immersive experience.

As the story progresses and Helena decides to use her woodsman knowledge to hunt down her father for the sake of her daughter, Neil Burger opts for an ultra-realistic ending. It leaves the audience somewhat disappointed, considering the anticipation built up during the third act. 'The Marsh King's Daughter' is a film that excels in exploring the father-daughter relationship but falls short of fully developing the wider narrative and the climax.

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