Three themes I found particularly interesting in The Daughter: revenge, truth, and promiscuity.
Revenge – Many years after having left home, Christian returns for his father’s wedding. He accuses his father Henry of having cheated on his mother and of being responsible for her suicide. When the bride asks what’s going on, the father refuses to tell her. When Christian calls
his girlfriend and hears that their relationship is over, he decides to reveal to his best friend Oliver that Henry has fathered Oliver and Charlotte’s 16-years old daughter Hedvig, destroying thus his friend’s family.
Truth – By revealing the truth to Oliver, Christian succeeds in destroying his friend’s life. By not telling the truth to his bride, Henry allows his wedding to take place and starts a new family.
Promiscuity – The dramas around which the movie is built are caused by the personages cheating on each other. Very remarkably, the cheating is principally the work of the female characters: – Walter, Oliver’s father, tells the story of his wife who ran away with an artist – Paul’s girlfriend Grace announces to Paul that she has been seeing her old boyfriend again – Oliver learns that his wife Charlotte had an affair with Christian’s father and was in love with him at the time they were already together. To make things worse, she tells him that he is not the father of Hedvig, but that Henry is. On the male side, only Henry has cheated on all the females of his life. Strengthening the female characters’ promiscuity, the 16-year old Hedvig entices her boyfriend, Adam, to have sex with her. Whereas it is obvious that it is his first sexual relationship, she has had sex before, but refuses to say so when he asks her. Later, she feels attracted to Christian and asks him to kiss her.
Finally, the patriarchal figure of Henry seems to be inaccessible to all the misery he causes around him. At the beginning, he announces to his employees that his factory has to close, obliging all these families that have lived in this small town all their life to go somewhere else to find work. Nevertheless, his lifestyle does not seem to be in the least affected by that. In the case of the financial fraud that he and Walter had planned together and that did go wrong, Walter was indicted and went to jail, while Henry was left unscathed. As to his role in the death of his first wife and to his rejection of Charlotte when she was pregnant, it has not affected him either: he is on the point of remarrying a woman half his age. What’s more, the two deaths that mark the movie – that of his first wife and Hedvig’s suicide – are indirectly attributed to him, but this does not affect him: the hunt scene at the very beginning of the movie symbolizes his unrepentant stance.