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First Look Review - DAUGHTER OF GOD (EXPOSED Director's Cut)

We take a look at the unreleased director's cut of the movie released as Exposed.

Review by Ren Zelen (@renzelen)

Directed by: Gee Malik Linton

Starring: Ana de Armas, Gabe Vargas, Keanu Reeves, Mira Sorvino, Laura Gómez, Melissa Linton, Big Daddy Kane, Ismael Cruz Cordova



Daughter of God is actually a thoughtful and semi-surreal story about the extraordinary visions of a Latina woman and the effect these have on the Dominican family of the absent soldier husband she adores. This movie offers subplots about inter-racial tensions, family relationships, religion, violence against women and the effects of police brutality and incarceration on black and Latino communities.


Don’t go and see the new Keanu Reeves movie Exposed - just don’t do it. You’re not really seeing the right movie, only a butchered travesty of one. It’s not even a good Keanu movie, it does him no justice. This movie seems to be a group of scenes tacked together to make a conventional thriller out of another movie that patently didn’t start out as one – and that’s exactly what it is.
The movie you should have seen was originally called Daughter of God and was an unusual indie drama by a Jamaican-American first-time director, Gee Malik Linton, who has since removed his name from the project.
The movie has now been released under the title of Exposed, because it has been cut to feature what was the subsidiary story, that of a cop uncovering the dirty deeds of his murdered partner, as the prominent storyline and pushing Keanu Reeves and Mira Sorvino to the fore as the main characters. It claims to have been directed by someone called ‘Declan Dale’.
The original movie, Daughter of God, is actually a thoughtful and semi-surreal story about the extraordinary visions of a Latina woman and the effect these have on the Dominican family of the absent soldier husband she adores. This movie offers subplots about inter-racial tensions, family relationships, religion, violence against women and the effects of police brutality and incarceration on black and Latino communities.
However, because of drastic changes the studio made in the film’s edit, Daughter of God has become Exposed, a generic and muddled thriller. Important subplots involving engaging Latino and African-American characters have been cut, some almost in their entirety.
The studio in question is Lionsgate and the release of the rehashed version of the film has resulted in the circulation of accusations of a particular kind of Hollywood ‘whitewashing’. “You need the white guy,” said Mark Downie, an original producer of the film, speaking to website ‘The Root’ and describing what happened to Daughter of God. “So you remove so much of what’s special and unique of [the original] storyline and you take that square peg and you just try to drive that through that round hole for the sake of revenue.”
Downie, who is a partner-producer with Battery Park Entertainment, was introduced to Director/writer Gee Malik Linton by actor Danny Glover in 2007, a year after Linton wrote the screenplay. Downie said that those who read the script, including Keanu Reeves, found it to be “very powerful.”
According to Downie, before it became Exposed, half of Daughter of God was originally subtitled because it was in Spanish and was a supposed to be a vehicle for Cuban actress Ana de Armas, whom Reeves recommended for the role.
The film predominantly featured Big Daddy Kane, Gabe Vargas and Orange Is the New Black’s Laura Gómez. Keanu Reeves’ role—that of a police officer warily investigating the murder of his corrupt partner—was a smaller, supporting part, originally intended for Philip Seymour Hoffman, (who unfortunately died in 2014). Those who worked on the film described Reeves’ role as the kind that an A-list actor might take in order to help a small, independent film like Daughter of God get funding. When Gee Malik Linton’s own money sources fell through during preproduction, “That’s when Lionsgate was approached,” says Downie.
Downie believes that during the process of getting Lionsgate to come to the table with funding, the studio was probably told that the movie was a crime-thriller when it was actually something else—a bilingual, multi-racial, dream-like drama. This created a fundamental misunderstanding - what Downie called a “hodgepodge” deal.
A director’s cut of Daughter of God by film editor Hervé de Luze was made and shown in France, where, Downie claimed, more than 80 percent of the audience rated the film positively. When Lionsgate saw this version, it apparently balked and set about recutting the film to fit what it thought it had been sold: a Keanu Reeves crime-thriller.
I have viewed both cuts of Daughter of God/Exposed. The final studio cut of the film slices away lines and scenes featuring African-American and Latino characters, and removes aspects of the Dominican family’s life in Washington Heights. Cut by over 20 minutes, the erstwhile haunting and disturbing female-centred drama has been distorted into a disjointed thriller exhibiting few thrills. The cuts have diluted and diminished the harrowing effect of the final twist.
If I have any criticisms of the original film, Daughter of God, it is simply that the roles for Reeves and Sorvino often feel padded out and superfluous to the main thrust of the story, with overlong dialogue and dull backstories that do little to enhance or further the plot. Sorvino attacks her role with aplomb, I’ll hand her that, but Keanu, despite our inexplicable liking of him, never does fare well when it comes to nuance – he has a nice face, but it just doesn’t do the emoting thing, try as he might, bless him. The original movie would actually have benefited by cutting their screen-time and concentrating further on the predominant and far more intriguing storyline featuring Ana de Armas.
The trailer is even more misleading. Only wide-eyed Ana de Armas features and she is reduced to a bit player. The Dominican family and surreal elements crucial to the film don’t appear at all. The rest seems to be mostly scenes between Reeves and Mira Sorvino which indicate Big Daddy Kane as Reeves’ primary adversary (his role is rather different in the original film). “The trailer that they’re using ... when I saw it, it was just shocking,” said Ellyn Long Marshall, who was the casting director on Daughter of God and is friends with its director, Linton. “It had nothing to do with the story, from what I saw, if that’s representative of the film. It’s just a different film.”
Sad to say, Exposed is a different film from Daughter of God, and not in a good way.

A petition has been launched to release the original cut of Daughter of God - you can sign it at change.org/p/lionsgate-premiere-tell-lionsgate-to-release-the-daughter-of-god-exposed-director-s-cut


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