Laila (newcomer Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, whom I hope we see more of) has pink hair and painted nails and is living with her white boyfriend, Aaron (Connor McCarron), in a rundown camper outside a small rural Yorkshire town. She is not, we can see, a “good” Pakistani girl, and though life is hard and jobs are scarce and money is tight, she seems relatively happy. Until her brother, Zaheer (Ali Ahmad), shows up with two carloads of bounty hunters — and a trunk lined with plastic sheeting — to drag her home to their furious father in order to fix the “shame” she has brought the family with her deplorable self-determination. Up till this point, the first feature from writer (with Matthew Wolfe) and director Daniel Wolfe creates a palpable menace, though it does so by focusing far more on the bounty hunters — including one played by the always amazing Gary Lewis (Eragon) — than on Laila… and that sets the stage for the rest of the film. This is a lurid meatgrinder of a movie in which the villains are more developed than the ostensible protagonist, who is reduced to a passive object of male rage, greed, and possessiveness; the one action she is involved in that has any significant impact on the plot is an accident, not the result of a deliberate decision on her part, and at one point she is actually drugged into submission as she is dragged to the film’s deeply unsatisfying conclusion. Catch Me Daddy is a misleading title, implying a defiance and rebellion that is not on display here. If the film had any intention of criticizing a subculture that treats women like possessions, barely allowing its central character any room to breathe, much less act on her own behalf, is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If it merely wants to be exotic in its depiction of male assholery knowing no ethnic bounds, then that’s fairly reprehensible.
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