Life & Culture

How a 70-year-old widower gets embroiled in his daughter’s marital problems

New film My Daughter My Love is spearheaded by Israeli writer-director Eitan Green


"I don’t want to make a big deal about it. But there aren’t a lot of movies about the relationship between a father and a daughter,” says Israeli writer-director Eitan Green.

In his new film My Daughter My Love, which receives its British premiere at the UK Jewish Film Festival this week, the story follows 70-year-old widower Shimon (Sasson Gabay), who arrives in Paris to visit a friend and ends up embroiled in his 30-year-old daughter’s marital problems.

Although Sofia Coppola’s 2020 film On The Rocks detailed something similar, it is, as Green notes, rare to see on screen a father so heavily involved in his grown-up daughter’s affairs.

At first, he senses something is wrong and begins to spy, rather amateurishly, on his son-in-law, thinking he might be having an affair.

“The whole thing is actually very simple. It all comes from the fact that he loves his daughter so much,” says Green. But as he digs deeper, he begins to realise it’s his daughter Alma (Sivan Levy) who is troubled. “All of a sudden, he finds himself in the middle of this crisis. That’s not his idea of a great time in Paris!”

What the film does well is show what it’s like when a parent meets his offspring as an adult and discovers things that perhaps he didn’t want to know. “I’m not that good,” Alma says at one point, after he calls her his “good girl”. She even confesses that while she’s avoided drugs in the past, she’s enjoyed the company of a lot of men.

“She’s… I don’t want to say ‘weird’, but she’s a special character in a way, the daughter,” says Green. “And I think she wants to make him angry a little bit. She wants to provoke. She’s not his little girl anymore.”

Green, whose past work includes 2008’s It All Begins At Sea, which depicted three scenes in the life of a boy from childhood to adolescence, isn’t entirely certain where the initial idea came from.

“The honest answer is I don’t know,” he shrugs. “I do have two daughters. One is 25. One is 20. I also have a son. Most of my movies are closely autobiographical. But this thing didn’t happen to me. Maybe it happened in my mind. What would I do? But it didn’t happen to me. And most of my movies are about the relationship between fathers and sons.”

While My Daughter My Love has a serious side to it, Shimon’s hapless snooping in the early part of the film and his combative relationship with his ailing friend Nissim, who has heart problems, brings levity to the story.

“This character is opening a window to humour. He gives the movie what I thought, and hoped, would happen. They give some light moments to the drama, which is very important to the balance of the movie. It’s not a comedy, by definition, but I wanted to have some touches of comedy, and this character helps.”

Due to the ongoing situation in Israel, Green is still awaiting the release of My Daughter My Love back home, but he’s kept busy.

He’s just finished penning a new script Room 204, which tells the story of an 84-year-old man hospitalised after breaking his hip. Left to reflect on his life, “he meets his daughter, his son, his grandson, the whole thing,” explains Green.

It’s also another work with an autobiographical streak. “[It] actually has to do with my parents,” he explains. Facing up to our own mortality? It comes to us all.

My Daughter My Love screens at the UK Jewish Film Festival at Brighton & Hove Jewish Community on 16 November, at Curzon Mayfair on November 19 and at Everyman Leeds on 26 November

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