Daisy Miller (1974)

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich

Despite mixed emotions, Frederick Winterbourne tries to figure out the bright and bubbly Daisy Miller, only to be helped and hindered by false judgments from their fellow friends.

If I was ever asked, "what is your most controversial movie opinion?" I would respond that Daisy Miller is a misunderstood masterpiece. Well, perhaps not quite a masterpiece of cinema, but I often struggle to understand why it is just so hated by other critics. For me, it's not that Cybill Shepherd's quote-unquote "bad" acting is "actually the point" in the sense that it was a deliberate choice on behalf of the filmmakers and others are then misinterpreting it. Indeed, that line of argument doesn't particularly interest me. Rather, it is what her performance brings to the film—to the poststructuralist 'text' that floats free of the author's original intentions (if I can channel Roland Barthes for a second)—that elevates this film from a fairly run-of-the-mill prototype Merchant/Ivory adaptation to something that begins to interrogate the orthodox understanding of characters' personalities in nineteenth-century novels, or at least re-examining them through the contemporary lens of neurodivergency. Perhaps it's a stretch, but my argument is not too estranged from discourse over mental illness in Shakespeare.


The ending leaves you shocked and sad at its conclusion, over the fate of a character you're never really sure you liked.

— Quintin Tarantino (Cinema Speculation)