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Release Date: 11/03/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Crime. Drama. Mystery.

Studio: Lionsgate | Roadside Attractions. 

"A woman seeks revenge against the man who kidnapped her mother." 


The Marsh King’s Daughter, adapted from Karen Dionne's 2017 novel of the same name, follows a woman who must confront her complicated past to protect her family. 


The film opens as young Helena lives with her mother and father lives in the picturesque setting of the Tahquamenon River Valley in rural Michigan. Helena spends most days with her father, Jacob (Ben Mendelsohn - Captain Marvel, Rogue One), who teachers her how to hunt and track and survive in the wilderness.


However, the tranquil setting hides a dark secret. When a lost traveler seeks refuge, Helena's mother unveils the shocking truth that she’s been held captive by Jacob for more than a decade and now must mount a daring escape.


Fast forward 20 years, and Helena (Daisy Ridley - the Star Wars sequel trilogy) has built a seemingly perfect suburban life with her own family and young daughter. But her newfound stability is threatened when Jacob escapes police custody and brings the haunting specter of her past to light. 


Director Neil Burger (Voyagers, Divergent) made a gorgeous looking film, full of sumptuous and lush wilderness, his actors often framed like perfect still scenes from paintings. 


Since her breakthrough role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ridley for the most part has acted well in a series of average movies. The Marsh King’s Daughter is more of the same. Ridley effortlessly ranges from a tender and loving suburban mom, to a woman with a complex history of lies and abuse growing up in the American wilderness.


Mendelsohn gives a haunting and nuanced performance as a man with a dual nature – at times a devoted father, but also a man capable of truly heinous acts. The chemistry between Ridley and Mendelsohn is palpable, and their shared history and intricate relationship feels entirely authentic.


Gil Birmingham (Yellowstone) is great in a supporting role as a police officer who found and nurtured Helena and became a sort of father figure. He’s not given much to do, though, and the story could have benefited had his role been larger.

Despite the movie's aesthetic beauty and fine acting, there’s a lingering sense of familiarity here. The Marsh King’s Daughter is ultimately a visually captivating film with exceptional performances, but the conventional storyline and writing prevent it from being truly memorable.


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