/10 44K votes
Language: English | Italian
Release date: December 16, 2021
A woman's beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.
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The Lost Daughter (2021)
I loved this movie even with its many shortcomings. It is so beautifully layered from a woman's point of view, it comes off as fresh and original, even though the events are something we've seen before in many ways. Olivia Coleman is certainly key, playing the main role and the pivot for events in current time and the many flashbacks. The younger version of her character, played by Jessie Buckley, is also really complex and impressive.
All the specifics of the story end up as spoilers, because each part is essential to the larger whole. So in the most generic terms we see a woman question her life choices regarding career and family, and then transferring some of that to a young woman and her daughter as a kind of echo. There are some pushy parts to the plot (the doll) and moments that seem a bit off (bad timing or not quite believable for a movie that relies on being believable), but in all the nuances and good intentions are superb.
Why do so many people get bored with it? Because it is about creating a mood, and does so at a simple pace. I never was bored, and I liked the mood, and was in fact rather rapt through most of it. I think it's a remarkable achievement, and a different editor might have clinched this as a true gem. Worth seeing if you like honest, probing, dramatic psychological movies.
Fmovies: I can watch all kinds of movies, but this movie was too long for me. It's not really long, but it moves very slowly. It wasn't bad, but obviously, this movie is actually a "motherhood" story. I empathized, but a woman's empathy and mine are not the same. The conclusion drawn from the movie is that not every woman should be a "mother"!
Maggie wasn't bad as a director, but the movie is slow.
There are basically two stories in "The Lost Daughter": the first is about a 48-year-old woman spending her summer vacation alone in a seaside bungalow in Greece; the second is about a woman in her mid-twenties and who was obviously too young to have children, and the level of motherly dedication she demonstrates toward her two daughters make her situation look more like an ordeal than the summit of happiness.
The first woman has got all the time in the world to meditate on her life choices with the luxury of perspective, the second has no time at all but is determined to find it. Of course both women are the same, and the little time-seed younger Leda (played by Jessie Buckley) found and planted became the oasis of bored idleness older Leda, played by Olivia Colman, could escape to. And in a clever parallel storytelling device Ã la "Godfather Part II", the story and the backstory become more and more intertwined so that the more we dig in Leda's past, the better we understand the present.
But you know what? That would be too convenient; what's remarkable in the film is the way it persists on toying with your anticipations with such an obvious delight it's not surprising this is the work of an actress. Maggie Gyllenhaal knows what a role says or doesn't, but wisely anticipating that most of us haven't read Elena Ferrante's novel, she tricks us through into taking what Leda's character seems to imply as certitudes (and does an excellent job at that).
Indeed, expect a lot of red herring in that part of the Adriatic sea. For instance, there's that prolonged moment where Leda is shown staring at the beautiful Nina (tourist or local? Played by Dakota Johnson) who doesn't seem to pay attention to her little girl. Not the most comforting signal when waves are crashing behind. Then we see young Leda with a daughter the same age than Nina's girl, then we remember Leda's evasiveness about her children. If you put two and tow together, you expect a new "Manchester in the Sea" with the loss (or drowning) of a daughter as the trauma locked in Leda's heart, waiting to be unveiled in an emotionally devastating (and eponymous) climax.
Good news, the film has flaws (too many names ending with -A) but predictability isn't one of them. This is not a movie about death and I'm sorry if I make a reverse spoiling by saying what the film is not. Of course with an actress of Colman's caliber, such a story could have worked but then Leda would have been your 'stock' drama character overcoming a trauma. What is remarkable in "The Lost Daughter" is that there's no death in that painful past but more of an existential dead-end, no crime committed but a remedy worse than the disease... on the shorter term at least, that's why we deal with the 'longer term' Leda.
But again, think of Gyllenhaal's possibilities: she could have justified the choice, made it the only salutary option but then again, Leda Jr. Would have been your 'stock' young woman wanting emancipation. If we could side with her that easily, we would trivialize her choice and then Leda Sr.'s guilt. Nothing to do with the current Olympic Games but one can see that emotional journey of one woman (split in two versions of herself) like a slalom race with overused tropes and clichÃ©s as easy traps for a beginning director.
And within that emotional thread, the remaining question is: how affected is Leda today? Would
The Lost Daughter fmovies. "In fact, men are peripheral figures in THE LOST DAUGHTER, on the beach, Leda gets preoccupied with Nina's incapacity of taming her young daughter, which also takes her down the memory lane of her younger years (played by Buckley) when her maternity duty takes a heavy toll on her. The bind between Leda and Nina is a complicated one, witnessing firsthand of Nina's quagmire, Leda is overwhelmed with sympathy because of her own past, she understand Nina's pain but cannot offer any remedy, at the same time, her doll-snatching act compounds Nina's situation, it may reflect a ghost of schadenfreude on her part. Leda is blind to her own cruelty because she might convince herself that taking away the doll is beneficial to Nina and her daughter, as she openly confesses, it is a harmless game in spite of her selfishness. The doll reminds her of her failure as a competent mother, through which she carries another attempt to make up for her willful abandonment."
read my full review on my blog: Cinema Omnivore, thanks.
On a summer vacation in Greece, Leda (Olivia Coleman), a 48-year-old professor from the states, confronts a raucous family with a young mother, Nina (Dakota Johnson), whose temperamental child reminds Leda of the challenges she faced as a young mother. Maggie Gyllenhaal's first outing as a writer-director is a triumph of subtle feminism underlying a search for the disturbing layers of motherhood, including abandonment and infidelity.
Gyllenhaal displays an acceptance of life's vagaries with goodwill and a subtle dread for the disappointments lying ahead. Coleman's Leda is charming and disagreeable in almost equal measure. While she observes her neighbors' frequently lame attempts at motherhood and marriage, Leda is slowly reminded of her own infidelity and child abandonment issues, expertly played as a young Leda by Jessie Buckley. Coleman navigates between now and then with the self-possession of a scholar used to the ambiguities of living and loving.
The story is not overly-complex or subtle because the characters are deliciously confused and downright naughty as folks in their late twenties are wont to be. Never are Gyllenhaal's and Coleman's attitudes about disappointment in their fellow human beings; rather director and star are as intrigued as they are perplexed about how life turns in on itself.
Coleman won the Oscar for The Favourite, a decidedly raucous set long ago. The Lost Daughter is a contemporary drama that shows her other acting chops. She will be Oscar nominated and deservedly so. Director Maggie Gyllenhaal should also be, an extraordinary occurrence for her first time out.
Greetings again from the darkness. There are so many things that go unspoken about parenting, and first time writer-director Maggie Gyllenhaal specifically focuses her lens on the pressures of motherhood, by adapting the 2006 novel from the anonymous and talented and mysterious Italian writer Elena Ferrante. Of course, we are all aware of Ms. Gyllenhaal's fine work as an actor, yet it's almost beyond belief that this is her debut as a feature film director. The source material is strong, but Ms. Gyllenhaal, along with a terrific performance from Olivia Colman (Oscar winner, THE FAVOURITE, 2018), turn a coastline vacation into a mesmerizing psychological case study.
Ms. Colman proves yet again what a fine and versatile actor she is. Here she plays Leda, a divorced professor on solo holiday on a picturesque Greek island, staying in a refurbished lighthouse tended by longtime caretaker Lyle (Ed Harris). Leda is packing a satchel full of books and academia work, and is a bit perturbed when her isolated beach time is suddenly interrupted by a large and noisy family of vacationers from Queens. Being an observant loner, Leda eyes young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson) who is struggling with her daughter, as well as her husband and other family members. This triggers memories in Leda that are handled via flashbacks with a terrific Jessie Buckley (I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, 2020) as young Leda, stressed out wife and mother to two daughters. She longs for her own space.
At face value, this appears to be a movie about a woman annoyed that she can't just enjoy a quiet holiday on the sandy beach as she reads her books. However, there are so many layers to the story and to Leda, that as viewers, we must remain on high alert to pick up all the queues and subtleties. Watching Nina with her daughter and husband sends Leda deep into her past ... a past that still haunts her to this day. At the same time, while gazing at Leda, Nina can't help but wonder if she is looking at her own future self.
Much of what we see (past and present) reinforces the isolation and frustration felt by so many mothers. It has nothing to do with loving one's kids, but rather maintaining one's sanity and self-being. There are a few key moments, including one that creates tension between Leda and the vacationing family, and another that immediately connects the two. Leda's past includes steps that would be considered taboo for any wife and mother, and the symmetry of her past and Nina's present are striking.
Peter Sarsgaard (director Gyllenhaal's real life husband) has a supporting role in the flashbacks, while Dagmara Dominczyk plays a critical role as Callie, part of Nina's large family. Bonus points are won with a Leonard Cohen reference (that may or may not be true), and also playing key roles here are a missing doll (connecting Leda's past and present) and the proper way to peel an orange. Cinematographer Helene Louvart works wonders balancing the beautiful setting with the not-always-beautiful actions of the characters. Especially potent here is the performance of Olivia Colman, who proves she can play most any role. It's also remarkable what first time director Maggie Gyllenhaal has accomplished here. This is a multi-layered, nuanced look at how relentless parenting can often feel overwhelming and may even lead to feelings of guilt later in life. It's rare to see such a raw look at the emotions behind what is often referred to as the joy of motherhood. The film leaves little doubt