The Lost Daughter (2021) Review
MOTHERHOOD can weigh heavily on those unprepared for such an immense responsibility, and while the reward is more than worth the risk, what happens to the parents who realise they've begun parenting before they've finished growing up?
Based on the novel by Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter follows a woman named Leda (Olivia Colman/Jessie Buckley) as her past life comes back to haunt her in the form of Nina (Dakota Johnson), a young, depressed mother vacationing on the same island with her. Mysteries begin to unfold as similarities between herself and Nina make themselves known in unforeseen ways, making Leda question herself and her decisions as a person and mother.
There are a number of underlining messages evident in Maggie Gyllenhaal's directorial debut, most of which revolve around postpartum depression, but since I'm unable to experience the miracle of childbirth, these themes left little impact on myself following the credits. However, I can still judge The Lost Daughter for what it is - a solid movie with terrific performances and perceptive character building.
Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson all deliver wonderful performances, presenting themselves as caring mothers shrouded in mystery for majority of the runtime as the audience is left to uncover the secrets that lie underneath both character's past and present. Despite being featured less prominently then I would've like, Jessie Buckley was the standout actress in the film, playing the role of a younger Leda to perfection; entertaining and heartfelt, while also being calculated and empathetic. But unfortunately, the lack of focus given towards her during the first act made for an unsatisfying experience by the final act came around. Her performance, while phenomenal, could've been so much more if not for the fact much of the focus was given to meandering plot elements which were built up to be an impactful crescendo, only for them to be as silent as a pin drop during the film's closing moments.
The sheer intimacy Gyllenhaal devotes towards her fellow cast members is one to be applauded; expectations are foreseeable, yet well-deserved, in a project that serves more as a character study rather than an overarching story, resulting in much of the runtime being devoted to one-on-one conversations and protracted shots of the Greek landscape that gives The Lost Daughter some semblance of verisimilitude. It's definitely not a movie for everyone; its themes will fail to relate to many viewers, but for what it is, The Lost Daughter is a promising directorial debut for Gyllenhaal that will keep you well-engaged from start to end - even if the road getting there is a long-winded one.