The Marsh King’s Daughter: big time daddy issues

Daisy Ridley in The Marsh King's Daughter

The Marsh King’s Daughter tells how a strong woman saves herself from the abuses of a bad man. In this story the man is her father. Coincidentally there’s currently a meme going around about “if you heard footsteps in the woods would you rather it was a bear or a man?” Most women choose bear. The women in this story would definitely prefer a bear, but they were stuck with a man. There are minor spoilers ahead.

The Marsh King’s Daughter begins when Young Helena (Brooklynn Prince) and her father (Ben Mendelsohn) are deep in the woods. He’s teaching her how to live in the wild. She’s a good student. She thinks her mother (Caren Pistorius) lies about her father being a bad man. She loves him.

Ben Mendelsohn in The Marsh King's Daughter
A bear would be better

Mom seizes a chance to run and takes Helena with her. Only then do we learn how they came to be in that isolated cabin.

Skip ahead 20 years. Adult Helena (Daisy Ridley) lives in a city with her husband (Garrett Hedlund) and young daughter, Marigold (Joey Carson). She has a new name and a new life and thinks she’s unfindable.

Her father has been in prison for those 20 years. He breaks out. It looks like he’s killed in a car wreck, but Helena has tingling spidey senses about him being after her.

Gil Birmingham and Daisy Ridley in The Marsh King's Daughter
A stepdad who is better than a bear.

Helena’s stepfather, Clark (Gil Birmingham), is a police officer. He takes her to see the forensic evidence that makes the police believe her father is dead. But her spidey senses still tingle.

She finally tells her husband the truth about who she is. She takes measures to protect her house and daughter. When she finds confirmation that her father is still around and knows where she lives, she sets off to confront him in the woods. She’s armed with nothing but a hunting knife.

It’s a long third act as Helena and her father play a cat and mouse game in the woods and marshes. He wants her and Marigold as his – living in the wild. If she can’t stop him, he’ll take Marigold.

There’s danger and suspense as the two work through it. She remembers survival tricks and advice he taught her long ago. She puts them to good use.

This wasn’t a ‘woman in peril’ movie from Lifetime, but it reminded me of those films. A woman fights to save herself from a bad man.

There was a level of suspense throughout that kept things moving. The acting didn’t zing and the chemistry between the characters was limp and bland. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either.

You can see this one on Hulu. If you watch it, let me know if you were more impressed by it than I was.

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