Maciej is devoted to his 17-yr-old daughter Wiktoria, a rising tennis star whom he coaches and relentlessly drives to improve her game. During one hot summer, as they trek across Poland from one tournament to another, the daily grind of hard training begins to seem absurd to Wiktoria, and the first impulses of rebellion against a regime which has ruled her every move for years begin to stir. For whose benefit is she expending all this effort? When Maciej’s new young trainee Igor joins them, the coach’s daughter realises there’s a life outside tennis, and the die is cast for a major showdown.
Marked by a tremendous performance from Karolina Bruchnicka, who beautifully articulates her character’s growing realisation of her own identity, A Coach’s Daughter is a deft examination of a paternal love so consuming it borders on the destructive. Given the subject matter, the film could have been angst-ridden - instead Łukasz Grzegorzek (also an accomplished tennis player, here directing his second feature) maintains a light touch throughout, even centring the humourless Maciej (played by Jacek Braciak, one of Poland’s leading actors) in some absurdly comical situations - usually of his own making. Grzegorzek frequently shoots his scenes in sunny woodlands, imparting an shining optimism to the drama. It’s not often that cinema tackles close father-daughter relationships (To Kill a Mockingbird comes to mind) and to find a film which takes this as its subject, treats it seriously enough to keep things interesting, yet never over-eggs the drama, is a rare treat.
A Coach’s Daughter won the Prize for Best Youth Film at the 2018 Cottbus Film Festival of Young East European Cinema.
“Lukasz Grzegorzek’s A Coach’s Daughter is an interestingly downbeat movie, veering away from the big scenes and obvious crises that other films with the same idea might have given you, and yet somehow serving them up in different forms.” - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.
“The relationship between the two title characters, the coach and his daughter, is rich, complicated, and therefore interesting to watch. Casting is very good:… Bruchnicka, in particular, emotes very well; Jacek Braciak is likewise convincing as the loving but misguided father.” - Felipe Rosa, Fifth About the Seventh
“Suprisingly refreshing indie movie from Poland. Well played by all actors. It’s great that movie is, at the same time, light and fresh and shows characters’ emotions very well” – Daniel Figzat, Letterboxd
YourScreen audience comments:
“Like A Coach’s Daughter, love looking at contemporary Poland and the portrayal of an obsessive sport/father/daughter relationship.”