Doch (The Daughter) (SIFF 2013)

Doch tells the parallel tales of a young girl coming of age in a small, rural town in the Russian countryside as it is also being terrorized by a serial killer of teenaged girls. Inna is a pleasant and obedient daughter. She does well in school, doesn’t get into trouble, and helps her widowed father care for her young brother. She is somewhat of a loner due to her responsibilities at home, but when she meets Masha, the new girl in town, all of that changes. Masha comes from the city and wears trendy clothing, drinks and smokes, and is interested in boys and sex. As Inna see more of the world, she is intrigued, but also fearful of both her father’s disapproval and the knowledge that there is a murderer on the loose.
Unfortunately for such a gripping film, the subtitles in this particular showing left a lot to be desired. They were littered with misspellings, poor grammar, and awkward turns of phrase that turn solemn moments into unintended comedy. As an example, during a sweet and gentle conversation between two teens just embarking on a relationship, the fragile moment was upstaged by laughter from the audience as “Are you going to grow a bird?” appeared at the bottom of the screen (instead of “beard). “Are you sleepy?” also turned into “Are you silky?”, leading to more confusion and laughter in a solemn moment.
In general, I don’t feel it is fair to judge a film heavily on subtitle translation/appearance, but in this case it really did affect my enjoyment of the film. I was repeatedly taken out of the moment in my film viewing to re-translate a phrase, and I’m sure I missed some of the nuanced aspects of the characters non-verbal interactions. However, I do still recommend this film, subtitle glitches and all, for it’s subtle drama and slow build with an effective and satisfying conclusion. Recommended.

Provided Film Synopsis
A skillful merging of coming-of-age narratives and nail-biting whodunits, The Daughter follows quiet, responsible teenager Inna, who whiles away her days in a provincial Russian town until she befriends Masha, the new girl in school whose independent character represents everything Inna's traditional father hates. But when Masha becomes the latest victim of an on-the-loose serial killer, Inna turns to the priest's son, whose sister has also been murdered. As local Inspector Bakhmetyev's investigation leads to harsh truths and shocking revelations, Inna discovers the pitfalls of Orthodox patriarchy as epitomized by the town's priest, who struggles to balance the bonds of the confessional with the need to protect human life. This beautifully shot, marvelously performed, very Russian drama is about people whose long-held beliefs in faith, hope, and love are put to the toughest test. It's a film about being able to choose when no choice is possible, about the courage to accept events, and about the strength to withstand circumstances that could destroy the world around you, your character, and your life.

Movie Details

  • Directed By:

    • Alexander Kasatkin
    • Natalia Nazarova
  • Cast Members:

    • Igor Mazepa
    • Maria Smolnikova
    • Oleg Tkachev
    • Vladimir Mishukov
    • Yana Osipova
  • Countries:

    • Russia
  • Languages:

    • Russian
  • Genres:

    • Coming of Age
    • Crime/Mystery
    • Drama