Film Review: 'Daddio' starring Dakota Johnson, Seann Penn

Stark Insider - Arts, Film, Tech & LifestyleDaddio

3 out of 5 stars

3 out of 5 stars – ‘Worth a look’
Directed and written by Christy Hall
Starring Dakota Johnson, Sean Penn, Marcos A. Gonzalez

Christy Hall is making waves with Daddio, her first film as a director. Previously she worked as an actor, screenwriter and assistant director. Helping her in this directorial debut is the casting.

The story was created by Hall as a stage play, written to be performed by two actors, and seems to have been filmed from that angle, but with striking images of the New York City skyline thrown in for diversion. Sean Penn and Dakota Johnson, who receive equal billing, have excellent chemistry in this film.

Hall’s casting promises a witty and entertaining film. Dakota Johnson is known for her performances in Cha Cha Real Smooth, Persuasion and Fifty Shades of Grey. Sean Penn’s 30 year filmography is extensive and includes Milk, Mystic River, I Am Sam, The Thin Red Line, and Casualties of War.

But for many, the film will disappoint. Oh, it’s short enough at 100 minutes – you won’t need a bathroom break. However, the humor is of bathroom caliber. Anglo-Saxon profanity is frequent and belligerent. Ok, so New Yorkers use tough talk to cover their vulnerability. But the F word in every other sentence?

While the viewer is interested in seeing what conversation develops during the long ride from JFK airport to 44th and 10th in Queens, those moments when two characters in the Yellow Cab start to talk are weakened by limited vocabulary. Where is that sharp wit and colorful slang for which New Yorkers are known?

Despite the unfortunate script, there is a nicely textured curiosity and even flirtation developing between “Girlie” and Clark – who wants to be known as Vinnie or Mikey. As they negotiate their way through endless freeways, Clark calls out Girlie on her surreptitious checking of the cell phone. Her very aroused lover, somewhere in New York, keeps texting for images of Girlie’s naked body, and he uses explicit language in telling her what he wants her to do while she is in Clark’s cab.

WATCH: ‘Daddio’ Official Trailer

Before the film is over, the viewer is fatigued by what could have been. Why doesn’t “Girlie” have a name? The taxi driver winds up with three – Clark, Vinnie, Mikey. OK, so Girlie has daddy issues. Does “Daddio” really work as a title for this movie?

Sweet moments do exist in the film. Clark removes the top from his thermos and pours water on the green potted plant he keeps in his cab. During the traffic clog caused by a serious car crash, he offers her a stick of chewing gum. And he agrees to urinate outside the cab at Girlie’s request, instead of into a bottle while he sits in the driver’s seat.


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An intriguing debut film for a director who will only get better. Excellent star power in the performances of Johnson and Penn. Worth a look.

Jeanne Powell
Jeanne is a published poet and essayist. She holds degrees from Wayne State University and the University of San Francisco. Jeanne has taught in the CS, UB and OLLI programs at universities in the City. Her books in print include MY OWN SILENCE and WORD DANCING from Taurean Horn Press.