His Three Daughters

His Three Daughters
His Three Daughters
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If you have siblings, then you know that they can always be there for you in times of happiness and sadness, even if it is only to remind you of your embarrassing childhood, berate your life choices and often infuriate you. Notably, sibling dynamics inherently hold the capacity for richer narrative sources that are more intense and complex than any other form of storytelling in movies. That is why family drama films are so interesting; nobody knows or misunderstands one another better than family.

The movie had its first show at Toronto International Film Festival in 2023 where Azazel Jacobs directed it as a writer. The film His Three Daughters looks like a common place tragedy; three estranged sisters (played by Carrie Coon, Elizabeth Olsen and Natasha Lyonne), who come together to decide their father’s last moments with them (Death bed). It is an awkwardly funny story that captures the essence of love among ladies who are sisters: Katie (Coon) being the eldest sister has become her sisters’ mother making her grow up very fast; Rachel (Lyonne) follows her every command provided or not and Christina (Olsen) tries to stay neutral between the two.

They sit around the table at home in this scene at His Three Daughters’ dining room. It was supposed to be about finalizing how their late dad would spend his last days on earth but none seems to agree on anything else- Katie has focused on little things that were not done while she forgets what she should have been doing all along. For example, Rachel is crying silently because she misses her baby girl who is miles away from Chicago for the first time since birth. Rachel hasn’t seen either of her sisters since they were kids so having them around makes her uncomfortable.

This alone tells you right off the bat this is a performance-based movie and both Coon, Lyonne and Olsen all do amazing jobs in their roles. They are so involved in their scenes that they can hate on each other as if they were real siblings. There is a strong leadership quality in Coon’s portrayal of Katie, although she can be overly headstrong like most elder sisters. It takes her awhile to let down her guard with them and us as well, but Coon’s performance gives the character such an endearing sweetness that we cannot help but feel for her.

Certainly, Olsen’s talent was never in doubt; however, after spending years playing the Scarlet Witch, it is wonderful to see Olsen in a small-scale film once more. Other actresses may have turned Christina into a typical baby sister but not Olsen. By far the most expressive among them all she still manages to show strength which makes you wonder if perhaps she might be the eldest one.

However, much more than Leonard and Lynon, who put in good efforts, the audience is likely to remember Lyonne’s performance best. As Rachel, the snarky yet sensitive main character, she is perfect in bringing much required laughter into the movie. Also, she does not shy away from exploring her character’s dark sides. The actress can be subdued and thoughtful one moment but then suddenly flares up at another. This kind of development makes for an outstanding scene-stealing performance that might attract awards; alongside her role in Poker Face at the beginning of 2023 it could be seen as a crowning act for a year of excellence.

The action of His Three Daughters takes place exclusively inside Rachel’s apartment where their father also lives with them. It has numerous implications since we are basically waiting for their father to die as sisters and as members of the audience: he is not shown for about ninety five percent of the whole film and then suddenly dies when they are all alone at night together. Besides this fact represented by long takes and apparent monologues made on behalf of his characters by Jacobs which make its duration feel like two hours instead of 101 minutes.

Arguably though, this is exactly what Leonard meant – how we sometimes find ourselves wanting to rush through time or space just like our three heroines Katie, Christina and Rachel because we want to get out there on our own again – after all we have come here to witness death so why should we try stopping it? But how do you explain what happens next when however well you know what will follow because this end means death? You can’t finish reading a story without putting a period (or maybe start another chapter), if you expect any kind of relation with real life situations then see Kendall Anderson’s set designs giving us rooms that people live in on the other hand writing characters that sound like real people in complex families whom almost anyone knows — this explains everything. It is a grim way of getting there but at least we have each other, our sisters.

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