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Three women, two days, one family. . . Warm, knowing, and filled with startlingly realistic performances, Brown's debut feature has been compared to the works of John Cassavetes & Mike Leigh. "Daughters" gives us a snapshot view of the lives of three generations of women. On Jade's 50th birthday, her life takes an uneasy shift. The non-profit business she co-owns is in the red, her 25-year-old daughter teeters on the brink of slackerdom, her stubborn mother chain smokes despite serious health problems, and Jade wonders how she going to stay sane. Each of the women try to muster the energy to move forward, even though their lives seem to be permanently stalled. Set in the Northern California city of Livermore, this once rural town faces changes in the form of Wal-Mart and other signs of urban sprawl.
Capturing the unpredictable nuances of family dynamics, "Daughters" reveals much more than three women, two days, one family.
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"Family conflicts and small-town politics take center stage in Chris Brown's engaging, understated drama, Daughters. Set in the rural community of Livermore, CA, the film focuses on three generations of women who share a home. On Jade's (Robin Huntington) fiftieth birthday, her life takes an uneasy shift: the non-profit business she co-owns is in the red, her 25 year-old daughter Sean (Jill Pixley) teeters on the brink of slackerdom, her stubborn mother Gina (Colette Keen) chain smokes despite serious health problems, and Jade wonders how she's going to stay sane. Brown's candid visual style and down-to-earth dialogue believably captures the unpredictable nuances of personal relationships and family dynamics, while his subtle take on the encroaching presence of Wal-Mart raises intriguing questions about the effect of '90s corporate culture on small-town life. Brimming with homegrown ambiance, Daughters is a refreshing, sincere slice of real life." -- Brendan Peterson, Mill Valley Film Festival program notes, 1997
"Four stars!" -- All Movie Guide
"In Daughters, a three-generation household of women is confronted with some of life's biggest hurdles: the onset of health problems, old age, loneliness, financial troubles, and feelings of uselessness. A widowed grandmother realizes that her smoking is killing her, but that she may not be able to do anything about it. The mother is desperately trying to keep her non-profit venture afloat, but she knows that a job at Wal-Mart is inevitably in her future. The 20-ish daughter, still living at home, is searching for something to do and a reason to strike out on her own. All of this "heavy," female family stuff could have spiraled into bathos and psychodrama in the hands of another filmmaker. But Daughters manages to tell something real about family dynamics without becoming maudlin; it aspires to drama, but it's tempered with honesty, love, and light-heartedness." -- Roseana Auten, South by Southwest Film Festival program notes, 1997
"So many new Amerindies trade in pseudo-"grittiness" that something as genuinely unpretentious as Chris Brown's debut feature seems an anomaly. Solid, low-key study of three lower-middle-class Northern California women does the slice-of-life thing without resorting to contrivance or to over-plowed, Cassavetes-ish "improvisational" turf. Pic's modest virtues, however, are ones with little current marketplace value outside the fest circuit.
Script, like well-gauged perfs, tells us what we need to know about these folk without passing judgment or manipulating our responses. Ending could've been punched up a tad, however.
Production is cleanly handled on no doubt limited means; some awkward post-syncing in exterior sequences rates as sole tech flaw. Scratchy 1930s jug-band-type recordings provide idiosyncratic soundtrack fodder." -- Dennis Harvey, Variety, October 1997
"This modest story about three generations of women from one family who live together under one roof is quietly unassuming and absorbing. Each woman faces various age-appropriate crises: The eldest, the widowed grandmother, deals with the portents and implications of the minor stoke she suffers as the movie begins; the middle woman faces her 50th birthday and the stressful complications of sustaining the precarious viability of the company of which she is a partner and temporary landlord; and the youngest, the daughter in her mid-20s, finds it easier to invest her money in a new car she can't afford than apply it toward a college education. The characters maintain our interest throughout this 75-minute-long feature narrative as they work through their individual dilemmas and discover collective touchstones. Another nice touch is how the unseen but ever-present Wal-Mart on the edge of town assumed a brooding and symbolic presence in Daughters." -- Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle 3/21/97
"an absorbing film debut..." -- Cinequest Film Festival program notes, 1998
"filled with startlingly realistic performances..." -- Kansas City Film Festival program notes, 1998
Chris Brown is a San Francisco-based filmmaker whose films have won awards in many national and international festivals, including Best Narrative (Atlanta Image Film Festival), Best Drama (North Carolina International Film Festival) and Most Promising Filmmaker (Ann Arbor Film Festival, Cincinnati Film Festival). Daughters, his first feature, was shot in Chris's hometown of Livermore, California.
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