Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Starring: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson

Year: 2021

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut (in which she also adapted the screenplay from the novel) is a growing twinge rather than a growing pain; it’s not a complete disaster, from which she needs to scoop herself out of the ashes, but neither is it compelling cinema in the way that we need it to be if she wants us to remember the story in a month’s time.  The Lost Daughter is a showcase of acting talent from its lead actress, and if that was the goal then, bravo Maggie.  But the story itself dissolves into nothing the more it’s absorbed by the audience, and that can’t have been the intention.  A good feeling with a mediocre finish; the film won’t leave most of us satisfied.

On holiday in Greece by herself, partly to do work and partly to get away from it all, Leda attempts to relax, clear her mind, focus on her profession (comparative literature), and maybe take a little swim.  It’s an idyllic locale that’s soon made much more noisy by the arrival of a group of New Yorkers who have come to their ancestral home to celebrate a birthday.  Among them are Nina, a beautiful young woman, and her small daughter, who both remind Leda of a past that she has tried hard to forget.  She has two daughters of her own, now grown, but the way that she treated them in the past has never left her mind, and haunts her even in this wonderful place.

To start, Olivia Colman is a master.  I’ve loved her from That Mitchell and Webb Look to The Favourite and in everything in between; she’s one of the best actresses we have the honor to watch.  What she does here, the painful discomfort she exhibits, the attempts at humor, the raw emotion, is definitely Oscar-worthy and quite literally makes the movie.  It’s the rest of the film that didn’t sit well with me, as well as the direction from an amateur that was far too obviously direction from an amateur.  The story doesn’t flow correctly, doesn’t suck us in strongly, doesn’t give us much more than Colman (at least not anything as solid as Colman).  The Buckley parts were bizarre, the Johnson parts feel fake, and the entire message is one that not many will connect with beyond our own feeling of general frustration, not this level of random peculiarity.  The Lost Daughter is an OK film with a spectacular performance; make up your own mind on whether or not that’s something you want to see.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils