The Preacher’s Daughter follows the story of Hannah, a young girl who has spent her life in a small town ticking all the right boxes on her parents’ checklist of the dutiful daughter.
The opening sequence of the film, with the music of a strumming guitar and shots of a little girl being immaculately dressed and coiffed, epitomises the parents’ ideal of their daughter and the naïve belief that she will always remain their sweet, little girl. This glowing image is shattered when Hannah becomes involved with a married man, the consequences of which lead her to flee town and her former life.
The film starts in the present, with Hannah’s life after escaping town; while the past is told in flashbacks from her point of view. Hannah’s journey throughout the film remains compelling, driven by Andrea Bowen’s performance . The title character’s strongest support comes from Rachel, a new girl in town who is a misfit in comparison. The most endearing part of the film is the minor, yet integral, plot point of the friendship between the two girls. The parents are the weak link in the chain. They are amiable characters, but herein lies the problem. Although they admit weaknesses they are continually portrayed as saints and not held accountable for their decisions, which Hannah highlights but the film fails to address.
The Preacher’s Daughter manages to steer clear of moralising or preaching, quite a feat considering the title, but beliefs and opinions are strongly put forward nonetheless. It aims to depict circumstances realistically, which it gets right most of the time, but unfortunately, unfair stereotypes are also portrayed and enforced. You become absorbed in Hannah’s story, although occasionally focus slips due to smatterings of weak dialogue and an irritating soundtrack. It may not be the most dynamic film, but at least it broaches some interesting topics.