Criterion Prediction #172: Daddy Longlegs, by Alexander Miller
Title: Daddy Long Legs aka Go Get Some Rosemary
Director(s): Josh and Benny Safdie
Cast: Ronald Bronstein, Fray Ranaldo, Sage Ranaldo, Eleonore Hendricks
Synopsis: Lenny, a freewheeling 34-year-old projectionist, spends two weeks with his two young sons, Sage and Frey. Lenny’s enthusiastic and carefree demeanor makes for a fun companion but is he a good father?
Critique: Josh and Benny Safdie’s early feature is a bit rough-hewn. There are some visible frays at the edges but Daddy Longlegs is a strong feature because it has a thesis; is it healthy to be a friend to your children more than a parent? A common query that makes for an engaging narrative but the film’s potency lies in the unemphatic, objective way it’s answered. There’s a fluidity to the sometimes manic energy that comes from the Safdie brothers and, even in this earlier juncture, we can see their ability to balance tension and detachment. Daddy Longlegs has the studied domestic anxiety typified by the likes of John Cassavetes but there’s an overarching sense of observational wit, wry humor and unobtrusive cynicism that shapes the material to more universally appealing plateau. As directors, Josh and Benny Safdie’s artistic growth is visible in this early feature and their status as eminent American filmmakers is assured.
Why it Belongs in the Collection: Josh and Benny Safdie are more than up and coming voices in contemporary cinema. They’ve “arrived” with the recent success of their 2017 film Good Time and, given the amount of attention they’ve received from The Criterion Collection (closet picks, profiles, top ten lists), it wouldn’t be a surprise if this activity was in tandem with release plans. And in introducing the work of the Safdie brothers, it only makes sense to start with their early feature-length film Daddy Longlegs. It’s the same case for the Coens’ Blood Simple, Polanski’s Knife in the Water or Von Trier’s The Element of Crime. Seeing the somewhat limited presence of their 2009 film on home video, Daddy Longlegs would be a logical jumping off point, provided it happens at all.