Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Tokyo Sonata) makes his first film outside Japan with this French-language fantasy, about an aging photographer whose obsession with an archaic technique draws his young assistant and beautiful daughter into a dark and mysterious world.
Shot entirely in French and set in France, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's hypnotic new film is the master director's first production outside his native Japan. But nowhere is displacement visible: Daguerrotype is a seamless and captivating work about a young man who finds himself working for a photographer haunted by the death of his beloved wife, and is similar in many ways to Kurosawa's ghost films such as Pulse and Retribution.
The aging photographer, Stéphane (Olivier Gourmet), still in mourning, is obsessed with taking life-sized daguerreotypes. This process, commonly used in the early years of the medium, needs a long exposure, requiring the subjects to remain motionless for extended periods of time. (Nineteenth-century superstition also held that the process gave eternal afterlife to the people captured on film.)
Stéphane's new employee, Jean (Tahar Rahim), gets caught up in an increasingly bizarre web involving his boss' alluring daughter, Marie (Constance Rousseau), who often poses for her father in scenarios that begin to disturb Jean due to both their subject matter and their duration. He is soon dealing with Marie's desire to escape this prison. Meanwhile, Jean is also identified by developers as someone who could influence the reluctant and crusty Stéphane to sell his considerable land holdings.
The table now set, Kurosawa deliciously turns Daguerrotype into an entrancing mediation on obsession and love. He weaves an intricate pattern of desire and ambition into this gorgeously atmospheric film. As Jean is lured into Stéphane's darkening world, we find ourselves equally unable to break free, watching in mesmerized fascination.