Movie review: The Shamer’s Daughter (2015)

Synopsis: Set in a fantasy world, the Dunark’s ruling family is murdered and the heir found with a bloody dagger. The Witch is summoned to shame him into admitting his crime, but when she can’t make him, she is imprisoned. Her daughter, who has inherited her mothers craft, goes to free her mother, and possibly uncover crimes more dreadful than murder.

Director: Kenneth Kainz

Starring: Rebecca Emilie Sattrup, Maria Bonnevie, and Jakob Oftebro

Review: Well I feel ashamed I’ve not written my review of The Shamer’s Daugther sooner. Based on ‘The Shamer Chronicles’ by Lene Kaaberbøl I caught this movie a few years ago and it’s one which stuck with me.

I’m going to try to not get gushy, but I really loved this movie. It had everything I enjoy: well developed female leads, magic, dragons, murder, intrigue, good acting, stunning sets, fun goodies and baddies who were BAD (none of this onion layers stuff. Most of the time I want quality baddies who just enjoy being evil and play it with a slight twinkle in their eye).

Set in a medieval fantasy world, the ruling Dunark family have been murdered, with blame falling on the drunken heir apparent. However, before he can stand trial, the Shamer must be called who will use her magic skills to ‘shame’ him into telling the truth. Yet, when the Shamer meets him, she can’t feel any shame for killing his family so she knows he’s innocent. So, who’s the murderer? And why? Before she can find out, she’s also imprisoned and set to death. The kingdoms only hope is her young daughter, Dina.

Ok, when I first saw this, my immediate thought was had very similar characters to ‘Wizards first Rule’ by Terry Goodkind. There were similarities between the Shamers and the ‘Confessors’ in Goodkind’s books, and both are high fantasy but I much preferred the Shamers Daughter. I take the point that Goodkind writes for adults while is a YA author but I found the characters are much better developed in The Shamers Daughter. The motivation of Dina was much purer and straightforward and there was no romantic attachments to get in the way of the story-telling (I’m not sure it would pass the Bechdal Test as a lot of the movie is discussing the guilt, or not, of the male heir, it was nice to see a main female characters motivation be something other than suddenly falling in love with a random man she’s just met!).

The sets, costumes and CGI are all to a very high standard. The child actors do an amazing job, as do most of the adults. There’s a few characters who are a little OTT but in many ways, it’s in-keeping with the character they’re playing and reminded me a little of Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (watch the movie and you’ll know who I mean!). I really enjoyed the mystery side of the story and it kept me interested until the end.

Game of Thrones was very darkly lit in places which meant you couldn’t see the action and I’m glad to say, even though this is a medieval movie, that’s not an issue here. The director, Kainz keeps the sets bright and the shots relatively wide so you can see all the action. There were a few slow bits but it was nicely paced and kept me interested all the way through (not a lot gets me to put down my crochet!). The musical score is also well used.

I won’t say it’s a negative as I love foreign-language movies, but I am a little sad I can’t share this movie with my daughter for a while longer as I know she’d struggle with the subtitles, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to friends with children aged 9+ who would definitely enjoy the adventure. I’ve even recommended it to friends who wouldn’t normally watch movies based on YA books and they’ve really liked it. I’m currently trying to get hold of a copy of the book and will let you know if I manage it. It’s not currently widely known but I truly hope it grows in popularity (I’ve just seen a sequel is out) and becomes a kids classic along the lines of The Never-ending Story or Labyrinth.

So, don’t be aShamed, check out The Shamers Daughter now!

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