Holed up in a grey-faced Yorkshire town, young couple Laila (Ahmed) and Aaron (McCarron) are keeping a secret: they have run away from her family. And her dad has sent a gang of thugs after them.
If Ken Loach tried to make a John Ford movie, it might look something like Catch Me Daddy, a working class Western that is as relentlessly real as it is gripping: Think The Searchers via Ladybird Ladybird. The Yorkshire Moors are its Monument Valley, its posse as twisted and conflicted as John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards.
A torn-from-the-headlines story centring on the notion of so-called “honour killings”, it shows how care can turn to control, love to hate, with Laila’s (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) father furious she has shacked up with a white boy (Conor McCarron). It’s disturbing, not only because each of the pursuers — from the gentle-seeming Junaid (Anwar Hussain) to the psychotic Barry (Barry Nunney) — are recognisable from life, but because even her boyfriend is hardly lover of the year. If this is Man, you would not want to be Woman.
The performances vary from quietly brilliant (Gary Lewis could be our Gene Hackman) to unvarnished but charismatic (newcomers Ahmed and Nunney), while NEDS actor McCarron has a sharp screen presence that more people should exploit. Behind the camera Fish Tank’s Robbie Ryan excels once again with his photography, which captures the bleak beauty of Yorkshire just as well as the intimate, haphazard action — whether it be love or violence.
Orchestrating it all are the Wolfe brothers, Daniel and Matthew. The former is a shithot music video helmer whose promo for The Shoes’ Time To Dance, with Jake Gyllenhaal, went viral. He seems to have a knack for dirtying up genre and a desire to subvert, both of which British film could do with more of. The latter is less well-known but no less crucial (he co-wrote the score, too). Their script isn’t quite up to its execution, in that the chase can only really end one of two ways and the finale’s attempt to negate that feels a tad contrived. Regardless, there are images here that will haunt you. And whatever the flaws, you value the voice.
A bold and uncompromising debut feature from a bright new directing team. There's a question over whether it justifies its own misery, but if you care about homegrown cinema then you have to see it.