A friend’s father died a short while just before I made this and it made me think about the things we miss, who we become while people turn away from us, for a moment or forever. What kind of artist we can be when no one watches what we do.
“Daniel” should have been a minor phenomenon, as it shares aesthetic DNA with the likes of “The Godfather,” “Once Upon A Time in America” and “Reds,” which all became sensations. But then again it also has quite a lot in common with “Heaven’s Gate” and “Ragtime,” which did not. We never know what people want from us. All we can be is ourselves.
Sidney Lumet made more great movies than you can count on one hand, but just as many critical and commercial disappointments. The two categories aren’t mutually exclusive either. But he continued to make his kind of movie, leaving behind many hidden gems for us to unearth later. “Daniel” is the best one I’ve found so far. It’s about communism, but it’s also about the silence after our loved ones depart. How important it is that we say the things we need to before we say goodbye. In that regard alone it ought to be a classic.