• Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Rex Reed ‘Daddio’ Review: Dakota Johnson Is a Lovely Sexy Listener

Rex Reed ‘Daddio’ Review: Dakota Johnson Is a Lovely Sexy Listener

Dakota Johnson plays “a lovely, sexy listener” in Daddio. Sony Classics

Daddio is a dreary two-hander with the look, feel and sound of one hand clapping. Conceived and word processed by first-time writer-director Christy Hall, it takes place in the form of a dialogue between two people in a taxi cab trapped in a traffic jam between JFK and midtown Manhattan. The driver is a salty working-class bore named Clark (Sean Penn). The unnamed passenger he labels “Girlie” (a wonderful Dakota Johnson) is returning from an unhappy trip to her hometown in Oklahoma. He begins as nothing more than a face she sees in the rearview mirror who breaks the icy silence with, “You’re my last fare of the day.” She makes the mistake of a friendly response. From there, the silly, pointlessly titled Daddio turns into a terminal talkathon.

DADDIO ★★(2/4 stars)
Directed by: Christy Hall
Written by: Christy Hall
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Sean Penn
Running time: 101 mins.

While he rants about credit cards, smart phones and a tsunami of assorted trivia, she indulges out of boredom and curiosity. He babbles incessantly out of irritability, and she’s a lovely, sexy listener. He begins with a grumpy diatribe about taxi etiquette, then morphs tediously into a nosey invasion of privacy that turns into a monologue about everything from bodily functions to why she’s texting a married lover. After a fatal highway accident turns the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway into a parking lot, she loosens up enough to join in with trivia of her own about her failures in life, love and sex, while he offers unsolicited advice culled from his numerous disastrous marriages. Some of the talk Ms. Hall has piled on to pad the running time sounds natural, if less than plausible, but there’s no thread that the conversation follows, and most of it is intimate without warrant.

Every woman I’ve ever known would start looking for an escape from a cabbie who turns as embarrassingly intimate as this one does—just as an impatient audience is likely to do with a movie like Daddio. Any movie with only two characters in a confined space for close to two hours had better be pretty terrific to avoid sinking into the kind of incalculable claustrophobia that is alarmingly evident in Daddio.  This one manages it occasionally, thanks to the two stars.

Dakota Johnson, a veteran of those Fifty Shades of Trash flicks, displays a vast supply of mood changes, and it’s nice for a change to see what she can do with her clothes on. Sean Penn’s cabbie is a creep, but as his obnoxious verbal diarrhea softens from gossipy intrusion to old-fashioned idealism, he displays a surprising amount of charm and the film finds something, at last, to say about how human connection through the art of conversation is slowly being lost.

Otherwise, travel to Daddio at your own risk.

‘Daddio’ Is Intimate Without Warrant

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