Skip to main content

The Memory Keeper's Daughter (2008)

The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Feature film. (2008, 120 mins) IMDB

...The budget for a film can affect its quality...


ou can tell this was a made-for-TV movie. Each scene is filmed with only one or two set-ups. The cuts are few. The reason it's done this way is to speed up the film production which reduces the cost. Unlike a feature film released in a theatre where the revenue stream is potentially very high, a MOW has a small, limited revenue stream and that dictates the budget. Instead of a budget of tens of millions, MOWs are made on budgets with a few million. That limits the creativity of the director, restricts the size of the cast and special effects and well TV movies aren't feature films.

Mulroney plays a husband and father. Gretchen the wife and mother. Emily the nurse.

Along the way, she meets a truck driver who lends a hand. Later they marry.

When the new parents return home, the father tells a lie. There was a second child, but she died. They took her away. Not so, but the mother believes it and there's a service in a graveyard.

With the story setup, it jumps forward to different times in both families' lives. 1970. 1977. 1986.

We see each child grow up. We see the one couple struggle in their relationship. We see the nurse fighting for education rights for her daughter. The big secret remains.

The nurse moved and kept her whereabouts unknown to the father. He sends money, she sends photos and letters which he saves.

There is a coldness and distance in their marriage. They have no more children. It seems he's probably afraid to father another "sick" child. His sister died young from an inherited illness.

The marriage eventually ends with divorce. The son becomes a musician. The wife a travel agent. The father continues his practice as a family physician and amateur photographer--it's the photography that inspires the name of the book. His dark room has many photos of this hidden daughter.

In the closing scenes, the father is fixing a leaky pipe under the sink when he suffers an aneurysm and dies. In searching through his dark room, they discover the secret. There is a range of emotions for the mother who discovers a daughter she thought was dead and it includes torching the photos. I didn't find that believable.

The film ends with the brother and mother travel to Pittsburgh and meet her and the nurse. It's out in the open.

The film is limited to 90 minutes and the result is a constrained story. It's as we walk on a beach, but not the sand, but a sidewalk and never look anywhere except the concrete in front. Not at the sand or waves or water. Just the sidewalk in front.

As a result, I think the story is too rushed. It covers too far a time period and we seem to learn so little about each character. That's probably the budget constraints at work. The film can't have too many locations, too many sets because each one means more money has to be spent.

Posted 2009/02/12 at 19h57ET in Movie Commentary.


Popular posts from this blog

Day 5: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Monday, November 21st, 2016 No work on the novel on Day 4. Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 18:31—Office ... if I use Leänne instead of Leanne how will people react... Y esterday was Sunday and I took it off, plus I was dealing with some mental health issues. I know this story is something that is simply a matter of putting in the time to make it happen. I’m supposed to be working on it as much as I can but I haven’t been doing that. Two main reasons. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on a story. Then there’s the issues of my mental health. Things happen. I get down and it impacts on my writing. I might be using it as an excuse, but it’s clearly something I need to deal with. I have to find a schedule I can work with. Perhaps I need to put this first and cut out other things. Not sure but I will figure it out. A name for the hero came to me. For the moment going with Leanne or is it Leanna? Should be Le…

Writing a Novel: The Deep Blue Hold–Introduction

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 ... I fight my insecurities and doubts and I withdraw farther away from people and life ... I n November 2016 I started work on a new novel with the working title: The Deep Blue Cage. A few weeks after I started, I stopped. I was feeling too depressed about everything including the idea of writing a new novel. It happens to me at various times, with varying degrees, and it is debilitating. The ultimate issue was: Why bother? Why bother write another novel no one will read and no one will care about. I also found I was dreading the writing process more and more. It was painful to think about. I walked away and focused on other things. Or tried to. That didn’t work either. I felt trapped and unsure where I should head, what I should do. I even asked the big question, what the hell is life about anyway. There’s no one answer to this question despite the proclamations of some and because I believe I can think critically, can reason, I look at it from many a…

Day 6: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 20:44—Office ... Lost at sea, she's rescued by a ship and wished she had never set foot on it.... N othing new on this story. Nothing came to me while I was sleeping or when on my errands. I thought something would come about, but nope. So be it. I have two chapters written. Not sure if they are any good but they are there. And so Chp. 3 to write. And I don’t see the scene because I’m not sure what should happen. The question is what is the cliffhanger. Nope. 3 about her, not the ship and crew. And I’ve already written the last line of the chapter. She wakes up and feels immense pain. Not sure if I should mention blood in the water. This chapter or the following. So it’s early dawn or not quite sunrise. And she’s in the cockpit unconscious. But how do I write it from her POV if she’s out. Hmmm. I can do it but should I do it? And I don’t w…