The Daughter

In this chilly, pastel-tinted, award-winning import from Russia (awkward English captions), our 2013 Seattle International Film Festival audience was treated to "Doch," an exciting, involving and ultimately satisfying drama. A small town is beleaguered by a serial killer who kills young teenage girls with a single fatal blow to the head: no rape, no torture, no robbery. Each has traces of alcohol in her system.

We join a young teenage girl who makes friends with a sassy newcomer, a more worldly classmate who smokes, drinks, and shocks her with a pornographic magazine. Our girl's mother died of an accidental overdose of pain medication, so our young heroine capably maintains the house- hold: cooking, cleaning, and caring for her three-year-old brother. Their father is a hard-working baker who intends to marry a widowed immigrant so she can get her papers and keep her job at the bakery.

We become acquainted with a detective who is frustrated by his failure to catch the killer, he is dogged by a young law-enforcement colleague who wants to be the one credited with solving the case. In addition, we meet a minister, his wife, and their teenage son who catches the eye of our two girls at school.

Directed by Alexander Kasatkin and Natalia Nazarovna, this beautifully textured film feels authentic in every aspect, from the tasks the girl must do in her house, the behavior of her classmates and most impressively (to me), the completely natural performance of the three year old. That little guy's dialogue is appropriate, his actions are typical and I was convinced I was seeing the real thing.

We must ponder the inviolability of the confessional: If a killer confesses, must the confession be kept a secret? We also wonder if a suspect is brought into custody, is the arresting officer responsible for his safety? We question the idea that a sweet little boy is better off in a foster home rather than with his capable sister.

This is one of my favorites so far in the 2013 Festival. No trailer available yet, sorry....