Review: The Lost Daughter

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Impressive direction from first-time filmmaker Maggie Gyllenhaal and yet another emotionally rich performant from Olivia Colman isn’t enough to guide The Lost Daughter towards finding itself, instead succumbing to the oddest beats of an otherwise intriguing story.

When Leda (Colman) takes a solo vacation, she becomes enthralled by a young mother (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter, sending her into a tailspin of reflection on her own experience as a young mother. Based on the novel of the same name with the screenplay also written by Gyllenhall, The Lost Daughter is, at times, a fascinating tale of motherhood, the ups and the downs. Colman’s character is largely pensive through as the arrival of Johnson and family sparks her memories; Colman continues to be one of the best in the business. Unfortunately for the film, there isn’t much else going on. An odd move by Colman’s character that comes across particularly vicious and selfish (and propels the story, thus I will not mention it) is a curveball that is hard to come back from. Without characters that the audience can empathize with or simply enjoy, save for Paul Mescal or Ed Harris in their limited roles, the film slogs along.

While Gyllenhaal’s direction is notably sharp, her own script lets her down as it swims in the same tone from beginning to end. Perhaps it was the source material. Colman’s inward thinking becomes repetitive and tiresome even with a few fleeting moments of interest. It takes quite a bit of time to recognize what is happening at the core of the plot and by then the film has been relegated to the background. Still, it’s a promising start for Gyllenhaal as a director and showcases established talents that are always delightful.

The Lost Daughter is now playing in select theaters and hits Netflix this Friday.

Rating: 3/5

Photo from Netflix

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