“Simple and not so cute” is our verdict on “Doll House”. It follows a man named Rustin who tries to meet his daughter after leaving his family eight years ago. If we’re being honest, there really isn’t anything wrong with the film. It has its moments and the ending is something that really puts a smile on our faces. The actors did better than their jobs. The story just lacked depth. It needed something more. Let’s go through the events in it so we can better explain our emotions.
How does Rustin meet his daughter?
Doll House begins with a young girl named Yumi making her way to a foster home to meet her father. When she gets there, she greets him excitedly, but to her disappointment, he doesn’t recognize her. The film switches to the past and we see the story behind the two. It all starts with Rustin playing in a club. He’s not portrayed as anyone more likable, and apparently he simply believes in living in the moment, which includes making a living from music while doing drugs to his heart’s content. But that night was one of his best friends, Diego’s 40th birthday. As they celebrate, Diego talks about being ready to die now that he’s feeling fulfilled. He says the only people who aren’t ready to die are those who still have things to do in life. This hits Rustin and makes him think about himself. The next day, true to Diego’s wish, he dies, possibly of a drug overdose. Things are not explored further as Rustin is the general’s son. As he walks home, his father is furious and asks him if he plans to smear his name further, but Rustin dismisses his concerns. However, events prompt him to take the next plane to Rotterdam, where he once lived and worked for a number of years. It was also here that he married Sheena. But the marriage hadn’t lasted as he had no direction in life and was unable to think of anyone but himself. He left when Sheena was still pregnant and never returned. He meets a man named Bok whose niece’s name is Yumi. During the performance, Rustin learns that Sheena remarried but died in a car accident. Since then, Yumi has grown up with Rachelle and Bok. He puts two and two together and realizes that she is his daughter. Rustin begins planning his next course of action. He’s in talks to perform at the local pub, but he’s not sure he’ll stay in Rotterdam long enough.
The next day, he offers to babysit Yumi while Bok is away on business. Spending the day with his daughter brings them closer together. The next day, when he has to babysit again, he takes her to a local restaurant where he has to meet the bandleader to discuss his employment. He tells him he’s not sure he’ll be staying there long, but would love to come along if he decides to. As he walks back into the restaurant, there is a brief moment of panic when he can’t find Yumi, but she’s just playing the piano. It makes him very happy to see that his daughter shares his love for music.
When he takes her back, he tells her that if she reveals anything about their outing, they can’t hang out together again. Yumi agrees to keep it a secret, and she also tells him about the upcoming auditions at the school. Rachelle and Bok have asked her to take singing lessons before, but that means she would miss them. Rustin promises to help her. From that day on, whenever he babysits her, he gives her lessons, but Yumi continues to be a bad singer. They both become very close and start treating each other like best friends. Bok, Rustin and Yumi spend the whole day at the park, where Bok mentions that the two really do look like father and daughter. That night, after Yumi is put to bed, Bok makes a video call with Rachelle, and she ends up seeing Rust. She reveals his true identity to them and Bok is furious. He forbids him from visiting Yumi again.
However, the next day, Yumi still sneaks out to meet him. As they talk, Bok knocks on the door. Rustin and Yumi sneak out the back door and escape him. He calls Bok and tells him that he is about to fulfill a promise he made to her. The two spend the day taking singing lessons in the park after a last attempt. They stayed the night in a hotel. Rustin calls Bok again but finds that Rachelle stopped by. He tells her he will drop Yumi off after the audition, but Rachelle tells him he is just setting the kid up for disappointment. Rustin is angry. After putting Yumi to sleep, he continues to drink, contemplating whether to just tell her the truth. They are late the next morning when Yumi wakes him up. They both run away and reach the venue just in time. Rachelle and Bok are already there, the former in a bad mood about the whole thing, while the latter has a little more faith in his relative.
After the audition, Yumi is upset to learn she didn’t make it, but Rustin comforts her just like a father would. But as luck would have it, Rustin throws up after a night of drinking, not getting enough sleep, and exceeding his limits. He is dropped off at his home, where a trip of self-loathing and intense regret leads him to a drug overdose. The next day, Yumi insists on meeting him so she can take her promised dollhouse. Bok and Rachelle decide to take her away, suggesting that they have started to believe in Rustin and are willing to give him a chance. But when they learn he overdosed, any trust he might have earned is shattered, just like the dollhouse he built for Yumi.
A month later, he tries to meet her after recovering. But Rachelle confronts him, wanting to know if he even has a plan. With no answer for her, a defeated Rustin goes to Sheena’s grave and apologizes for not knowing better when he had the chance. This scene here showed the actors’ commitment to their characters, which gives the film its zest despite the script’s flaws.
Doll House Ending Explained: Does Rustin Remember Yumi?
The film takes us back to the present. Yumi tells us that she found out the truth about her father a few years ago. Rustin had entered rehab after returning to the Philippines, but had relapsed following the death of his father. He suffered a stroke during one of his shows and has been in a nursing home ever since. Yumi tries to remind him of their time together, but Rustin seems clueless. Despite this, she spends the day with him and asks if she can continue to visit him. Rustin tells her that he doesn’t get any visitors and would be happy to see her more often. When she drops him off in his room, she finds that it is full of doll houses that he built. He talks about making them for his best friend who’s singing wrong. It turns out that Rustin remembers Yumi and the relationship he had with her, but he doesn’t remember anything else, and that memory has kept him company through the years. Whatever we say about the film, the ending is as beautiful and sweet as it could be, and it really warmed our hearts to see the smiles on their faces as the camera rolled up a montage of their time together been closed for years.
Final thoughts: What works for the movie “Doll House”?
Doll House is a story about grasping at straws of a life that could have been. The death of a loved one causes Rustin to check on his daughter so he has no regrets, but the moment he does, he realizes that not having her in his life was the biggest mistake of all time to have. Maybe he was better suited as Uncle Clyde than as a father figure, but drugs didn’t even allow him that freedom. The film itself is crisp and visually beautiful. It was engaging enough and essentially just a sweet story about the price of letting go of family. A worthy weekend watch for when you’re tired of scrolling through your watch list and can’t really decide on anything.
Doll House is a 2022 drama series directed by Marla Ancheta.