Daddy Longlegs: Presto Magic!

Stéphane Delorme at The Current:

Daddy Longlegs (2009) is the triumphant culmination of the Safdie brothers’ early period. By the time the two young prodigies (twenty-four and twenty-two years old) joined forces to make a movie about their childhood memories of their father, Josh and Benny had directed several short films under the aegis of their filmmaking collective, Red Bucket Films. Josh had also completed a seventy-minute feature, The Pleasure of Being Robbed (2008). Benny was drawn to slapstick and tangible reality, while Josh was more romantic and given to flights of fancy. Taken together, the Safdie touch is a fragmentary art of wonder: a tireless enthusiasm for the wonders of the world, which the filmmakers respond to with constant inventiveness. Imagination and realism go hand in hand, just as the two brothers move through life, guided by their skill at catalyzing the magic of the moment (“Presto magic!” to quote Lenny Sokol, the father in Daddy Longlegs, speaking like a conjurer). With their first feature as a duo, the brothers continued the lo-fi methods they had developed in their shorts, shooting clandestinely with a group of friends, moving the camera as frantically as their characters moved, and interspersing majestic anti-folk tunes to make us laugh and cry.

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