"Daddy Longlegs" (retitled, thankfully, from the bizarre "Go Get Some Rosemary") is a tiny indie that seems extremely personal to its makers. A deft look at father love and irresponsibility, there are moments within the film that will surely resonate with anyone who experienced a less than ideal upbringing. I, personally, identified with this underdog story in which you root for the characters--but, ultimately, realize that your investment is futile. Anyone seeking life affirming lessons or tremendous character growth will undoubtedly have to look elsewhere--"Daddy Longlegs" doesn't offer much hope for redemption. It makes a strong case for the power of love, but an equally persuasive argument that sometimes that's just not enough. And while I appreciated much of the film, "Daddy Longlegs" may not be for everyone with its dissection of what makes a family happy as opposed to what is actually healthy.
The movie is owned, quite literally, by Ronald Bronstein. Playing hapless Lenny, the divorced father of two boys who he will have for two weeks of vacation, Bronstein commands the screen with unbridled enthusiasm. Energetic and excited, Lenny is thrilled to reconnect with his boys. Playful as a friend, but not particularly effective as a parent, Lenny has trouble balancing the needs of his children with the demands of work and the pressures of a relationship. Impulsive, and borderline insane, Lenny doesn't comprehend the repercussions of his offbeat choices. And as things start falling apart, his manic energy manifests itself as anger and hostility--and he seems virtually unable to distinguish right from wrong in his increasing desperation. It's a powerhouse performance and Bronstein is ALWAYS a compelling reason to stay connected to "Daddy Longlegs." However, the other characters remain more aloof and so the film seems to lack a sane center.
While the boys do give heartfelt performances, they aren't particularly distinguished as individuals. They are mere props to Lenny's story, so some of the power and emotional connectivity of the film is missing. In a undeniably unsettling sequence, the boys experience a medical situation (I'm being purposefully vague) that might leave them unconscious for days and/or weeks and the consulted doctor doesn't even recommend hospitalization. Lenny is fine with this decision, he doesn't want to get into trouble, but I'm more intrigued by that doctor and Lenny's girlfriend who seem to believe it's okay for the boys to be comatose without proper care. In the end, we hope that Lenny experiences some realizations or life lessons to make him a stronger man and father--but there are no quick fixes here. So, without any character arc, the film ends in much the same place as it began. There is talent behind the film, and Bronstein is a powerhouse, but this unpleasant slice of life is sadly missing the context to make it a great film. Ultimately, I liked "Daddy Longlegs"--but it didn't deliver the emotional impact it was capable of. KGHarris, 1/11.