The Lost Daughter is a psychological drama signed by actress Maggie Gyllenhaal in her feature-length directorial debut based on the novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the screenplay category, and after a short cinematic distribution, it arrived on Netflix servers on December 31st.
The Lost Daughter movie plot and review
The plot of the film follows Leda (Olivia Coleman), a middle-aged professor of literature who is on an independent vacation in Greece. On the beach, her young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter catch her eye, and her obsession with them brings back her own memories of the confusion and problems of early motherhood. An impulsive and seemingly harmless act, she is placed in a strange and sinister world of her own mind, where she is forced to face the unconventional choices she made as a young mother, as well as their consequences.
Many say there is no greater joy than becoming a parent. The unspoken agreement is that every parent, especially the mother, would have to show that feeling of happiness, privileges and satisfaction all the time. However, the mood and attitude of this film towards parenthood is honest, cynical and cold. The Lost Daughter emphasizes the particularly specific pressures, expectations and responsibilities that individuals and society place on mothers, and we follow the painful portrait of motherhood with a quiet, somewhat eerie intensity.
Our protagonist perfectly coldly and pessimistically says that children are a terrible responsibility. The young mother to whom it was addressed probably does not want to hear it, but according to the Lady, it is the only thing she needs to know – she cannot understand it now, but she certainly will. It is noticeable that Leda is very lonely on vacation and that she talks about her past in vague statements and riddles. Also, it is a big puzzle why she ended up alone and practically without contact with her daughters.
Although Leda enjoys a vacation at the beginning of the film, the introductory scene sets the logistics of a potential tragedy. The town itself is like a bowl of fruit – beautiful on the surface, while below the surface something is rotten. Her opposition to a rude family and finding a child make her a combination of a local hero and a secret thief. The rest of the film offers us her interactions with people at sea while the tension hangs in the air, as well as scenes from the past in which the younger Leda (Jesse Buckley) feels constant pressure to be the perfect mother to her little daughters.
This psychological drama has a dose of mystery that completely refers to Leda, a somewhat rude woman full of pain. Everything related to her is presented by a combination of implicit sympathy and almost fateful inevitability. The feelings that led her to this place, as well as the growing number of dangers in it, are completely natural and not her fault, but in her definition of her own life, something went completely wrong. Also, the film has elements of a thriller because Leda tries to keep a secret from suspicious people in a small town.
Olivia Coleman presents a solid and stunning portrait of a combination of anger and anxiety that is spreading all the time. Her Leda is a set of contradictions, she suffers from headaches when the situation becomes too difficult and the actress exudes that some nervous energy that suggests darker feelings of guilt and trauma. As for Buckley, her Leda is much more raw and intimate and almost immediately has our sympathies, in the sense that we understand her choices and what triggered those choices. In my opinion, this film lacks a slightly clearer context that would be achieved by an adult character from her family, especially since Leda herself does not understand her own behavior.
The Lost Daughter is a psychological drama in which we follow a heroine who is cruelly confronted with a messy past – an art film in which not much happens with a bold and ambitious story and a fantastically expressive face of Olivia Coleman. Final rating: 7/10
The Lost Daughter cast and characters
- Olivia Colman as Leda Caruso
- Jessie Buckley as young Leda Caruso
- Dakota Johnson as Nina
- Ed Harris as Lyle
- Peter Sarsgaard as Professor Hardy
- Dagmara Domińczyk as Callisto “Callie”
- Paul Mescal as Will
- Robyn Elwell as Bianca
- Ellie James as older Bianca (voice)
- Ellie Blake as Martha
- Isabelle Della-Porta as older Martha (voice)
- Jack Farthing as Joe
- Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Toni
- Athena Martin as Elena
- Panos Koronis as Vassili
- Alexandros Mylonas as Professor Cole
- Alba Rohrwacher as Female Hiker
- Nikos Poursanidis as Male Hiker
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