Christian (Paul Schneider) returns home to New South Wales after a 15 year absence to attend his father Henry’s (Geoffrey Rush) wedding to his much younger housekeeper, Anna (Anna Torv). Christian is reunited with his friend, Oliver (Ewen Leslie), the son of Henry’s old business partner, Walter (Sam Neill), and meets Oliver’s wife, Charlotte (Miranda Otto), and teenage daughter, Hedvig (Odessa Young). As the date of the wedding approaches, a dark family secret is unearthed, which could forever change the lives of those involved.

The Daughter is a contemporary adaptation of the play “The Wild Duck” by Henrik Ibsen. Henry used to run the lumber mill, which has recently closed down, resulting in mass unemployment and the townsfolk moving away. One of those now unemployed is Oliver, even though he still enjoys a relatively happy existence with his wife and daughter. This is the opposite of the relationship Henry has with Christian, who resents an affair Henry had, resulting in the suicide of Christian’s mother. In fact, Christian isn’t the most happy about Henry’s upcoming wedding to Anna, who is young enough to be his daughter.

Despite having an immensely talented cast, including Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neil, The Daughter eventually gets bogged down in its familial drama. By the time a major revelation is disclosed in the third act, the film has practically turned into a full-on soap opera, complete with a checklist of who did what and with whom. Almost every character in the film has some sort of skeleton in the closet, whether it be Christian being a recovering alcoholic separated from his wife or Henry having spent time in jail. Probably the only truly innocent person in The Daughter is the titular character Hedvig, even though her importance to the plot of the film ends up being the biggest skeleton of them all.

Despite the fact that the film is plagued with melodrama, a saving grace for The Daughter is that the film features a quite solid supporting performance by Sam Neil. Neil has never looked more grizzled than he does in this film and Walter and his relationship with Hedvig can be seen somewhat as the main heart of the film. However, this still isn’t enough to save The Daughter from collapsing under its soap opera of a plot.