Combustible Celluloid Review - Daddio (2024), Christy Hall, Christy Hall, Dakota Johnson, Sean Penn, Marcos A. Gonzalez
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dakota Johnson, Sean Penn, Marcos A. Gonzalez
Written by: Christy Hall
Directed by: Christy Hall
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, sexual material and brief graphic nudity
Running Time: 100
Date: 06/28/2024

Daddio (2024)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Gabby Cabbie

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This kind of "two-hander" can sometimes feel too written and too "stagey," but, in this fine debut feature by Christy Hall, the quality and flow of the screenplay and the two clever, quiet performances make Daddio work beautifully.

A woman (Dakota Johnson) catches a cab at JFK and heads back home to her New York apartment. The driver, Clark (Sean Penn), strikes up a conversation, offering some of his views on life. (Being a cabbie, he has plenty of time to think and observe.) The woman talks about her trip to Oklahoma to visit an older sister.

Clark catches her texting with a romantic partner, and surmises that she must be having an affair. When the pair are stopped for a while due to a traffic accident the conversation begins to get more real than either of them bargained for, leading both of them to say things that they've never said before, to anyone.

From beginning to end, Daddio enthralls with its great late-night conversation. The characters are both smart and seasoned, and Sean Penn's Clark manages to balance out his own cynical philosophies with genuinely curious questions. Dakota Johnson's character is more guarded — we never learn her name — but she holds her own.

Her job as a computer programmer, and the concept of "ones and zeros," i.e. trues and falses, gets things off to an intriguing start. The talk builds naturally, moving smoothly from ideas to emotions, and as we creep toward the final act, we are riveted.

Best of all, the movie never seems to be in a hurry. It allows for long pauses between bouts of conversation, time to look out the window or reflect. Indeed, Hall creates an engrossing atmosphere, juxtaposing the noise and grit of the city with the insulated quiet of the cab. It never feels false. (The use of plenty of foul language makes it feel less scripted and more spontaneous.)

Daddio even finds a great ending as the characters arrive at their destination; they've shared something special, but as they part, only silence matters.

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