‘Prisoner’s Daughter’ review: Brian Cox can’t save this melodrama

Brian Cox and Kate Beckinsale in Prisoner’s Daughter. Vertical entertainment

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, whose debut film Seventeen was promising, this sentimental soap opera falls short, despite a strong performance from the extraordinarily gifted veteran actor Brian Cox. He makes every moment he’s on screen tick with understated honesty, but Daughter of the prisoner doesn’t have much of anything else worth remembering.

Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Written by: Mark Baci
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Brian Cox, Christopher Convery, Jon Huertas, Ernie Hudson, Tyson Ritter
Duration: 100 minutes.

Cox plays Max, a former boxer who, after serving 12 years in prison, is diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and compassionately released on the condition that he spend what little time he has left under house arrest in the custody of his estranged daughter Maxine (a wasted Kate Beckinsale). Still with psychological wounds from a tortured childhood, Maxine has no love for the father she can’t forgive and doesn’t want him near her 12-year-old son Ezra, but reluctantly accepts the deal in exchange for rent and expenses because she has multiple jobs to cover the mortgage on her Las Vegas home and pay for the expensive medications for Ezra, who has epilepsy.

The film is about the different ways Max seeks redemption, struggles to rebuild the damaged relationship with his daughter, make up for the wasted years and lay the foundations for his grandson’s future. That’s not all. Maxine is also constantly harassed by her ex-husband, an unemployed, out-of-work musician and violent drug addict who herself competes for Ezra’s attention. Everything, as Thelma Ritter said about Eve Harrington in all about Eve, but the bloodhounds snarl at her behind.

Surprisingly, Mark Bacci’s overstuffed but lackluster screenplay offers no humor or nuance to alleviate the boredom, but fills the melodrama with clichés from other films and easy solutions to the dilemma, as Max bonds with Ezra by teaching him to defend against the bullies at school. who always send the child home with black eyes. No one shows much maturity. Max doesn’t have the courage or character to admit his criminal past or explain why he was in prison in the first place. Troubled as she is by everything going on, Maxine doesn’t offer many arguments when Max enlists another ex-con to give Ezra boxing lessons. Each character is forced to battle with the clouds obscuring their past to make something positive out of their future, but we know Max’s terminal prognosis doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. The result is ultimately unbearably depressing.

It’s a tough slog, but the strength and power that makes up for it Daughter of the prisoner discernible lies in the focused artistry of Brian Cox, who imbues his role with a deep-seated understanding of what it means to stare mortality in the face and come out swinging.

Observer Reviews are regular reviews of new and notable movies.

'Prisoner's Daughter' review: A visceral performance from Brian Cox can't save this melodrama

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