At first blush, I thought I might need to recuse myself from this review due to a generational and cultural mismatch. I am not the target audience. Daddy Issues follows the experience of two young LGBTQ women. The film will resonate primarily for a younger audience, though I found, to my pleasant surprise, that director Amara Cash tells this tale in a relatable, thoughtful way with universal appeal.
Maya (Madison Lawlor) is a college-aged queer artist who specializes in snarky/cute cartoon pixies. She lives in L.A. with her foul-tempered, solipsistic mother, Danielle (Kamala Jones), though her dream is to go to an art school in Italy. She also has a social media crush on the sexually fluid and impossibly stylish Jasmine (Montana Manning). Maya goes to great lengths to find Jasmine, following her location check-ins, and when they meet, she is swept away. Their connection is instantly passionate. Maya joins Jasmine’s glamorous life of parties, party drugs, sex, and fashion until she stumbles into Jasmine’s relationship with a secret, older sugar daddy named Simon (Andrew Pifko).
Simon is a wealthy surgeon, but he’s also a junkie who raids the anesthesiologist’s stash at the hospital. He’s keeping Jasmine in an apartment and paying her monthly to be his consort. The script turns on two wildly unlikely eventualities that set off a chain of events resulting in all three of their lives being upended.
Each of the three winds up feeling betrayed by the truths that are revealed, and by the actions of the others. It speaks to the skill and emotional intelligence of the filmmakers that each perspective is clear.
“She lives in L.A. with her foul-tempered, solipsistic mother … though her dream is to go to an art school in Italy.“
Growing up among the elite, whether by way of wealth or beauty, has always been rich fodder for drama. This fresh new flavor layers in the immediacy of social media, life in L.A., and adults behaving more like children than their children. It’s a wicked mix.
Bad news for Millennials and Boomers: the characters over 30 are reprehensible narcissists with irredeemable issues. This is a Gen-Z critique of the preceding generations in the same way Clark Kent is Superman’s opinion of humanity (nods to Kill Bill): that is to say, not flattering. Fair enough, we may not agree, but we should certainly understand where that opinion originates. We should expect more films, more art in general, expressing the emerging concerns and experience of this generation, and they have a lot on their plate to talk about.
Cash’s film is reflective and accomplished, showing the world through the eyes of a young woman challenged by a painful childhood and by the culture of her times, finding her own way through the chaos around her to a functional adult life.
Daddy Issues (2019) Directed by Amara Cash. Written by Alex Bloom. Starring Madison Lawlor, Montana Manning, Andrew Pifko.
8 out of 10