In My Father’s Den

Year: 2004
Production Co: IFMD Ltd
Director: Brad McGann
Writer: Brad McGann
Cast: Matthew Macfadyen, Emily Barclay, Miranda Otto

This looked like another dour, drab drama of the sort we keep getting from both Australia and New Zealand directors but it had a mystery story element that sustained it enough to hold your interest. What threw me was that the narrative went back and forth in time and I didn't realise it was doing so until I was thoroughly confused about why they were talking about a missing girl when she was in every other scene.

Photojournalist Paul (Macfadyen) returns from traveling around the world to the small New Zealand hamlet where he grew up after his fathers' death. He has a tense relationship with his brother – who resents him having left as a young man, and makes friends with local teenage girl Celia (Barclay) whom (I gathered) might be his illegitimate daughter.

Celia goes missing somewhere along the line but we still see the scenes of her hanging out with Paul in his father's ramshackle house, in particular the secretive den where his Dad kept all his secrets and treasures. You might realise before I did we're skipping back and forward in time before and after the disappearance, after which when it becomes apparent Paul's a suspect.

There were a few too many mysteries and surprises and I'm not sure which one is supposed to have the most weight, but at least there's a Hitchcockian element in amongst the muted colours and windswept landscape.

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