MANY of us have felt it at one point or another.

That sensation of being lost or hopeless and in need of help.

Daphne, Scottish filmmaker Peter Mackie Burns’ debut feature, is about that struggle to navigate urban 21st century life which can often seem cold, harsh and uncaring.

But while most of us manage to rise to the challenge of life’s expectations and challenges, Burns’ film portrays a young woman who decides to shut herself off from the world instead. The Daphne in question is a brittle 31-year-old Londoner who has ‘sort of given up on people’ as she begins to slip through the cracks.

Working as a cook in a restaurant, she rejects the friends who try to reach out to her and her relationship with her mum, who she fears losing to cancer, is strained.

Instead she finds brief solace in drink, drugs and hook-ups with men she does not even like.

Some critics have described Daphne as a woman you would not want to spend a lot of time with. But that is not really the whole picture because when she lets her guard down you can see a likeable – albeit complex – character who has lost her way.

This is all thanks to an excellent central performance by Emily Beecham (Hail, Caesar!) who brings a great deal of depth and subtlety to the character.

The film comes to a head when Daphne witnesses a violent robbery which affects her ways she does not expect or understand as she begins to confront the person she has become. It is clearly not a cheerful watch – although there is a glimmer of hope at the end – but if you like character-driven pieces which do not patronise you with easy answers then it is really engaging.

Burns’ aim was to present a type of female protagonist we do not often see on our screens.

Beyond its themes the film has a great sense of style too.

Influenced by Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai’s use of colours, Daphne was shot on location in the Elephant and Castle area of London and even all the clothes were bought from the markets there to give a real sense of place. The film has also been compared to Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret and reveals both Burns as a director to watch and Beecham as a rising star.

Daphne is being screened at Home in Manchester until October 12. Visit

RATING: 7.5/10