The Lost Daughter

Written by Maria Athayde


The Lost Daughter written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhall is a movie on motherhood, unlike anything I have ever seen. In this film motherhood is messy. It is a commendable debut directorial feature for Gyllenhall who is just as comfortable behind the camera as she is in front of it. Adapted from an Italian novel by Elena Ferrante, a pseudonym for an author who wishes to remain anonymous, who prefers to let their work speak for itself.  

Starring Olivia Colman as Leda Caruso played by Jessie Buckley as her younger self. The Lost Daughter tells the story of Leda, a language professor originally from Leeds in the United Kingdom who lives in Cambridge, MA on vacation in Greece. While on vacation she befriends a young mother by the name of Nina (Dakota Johnson). This friendship morphs into something of an obsession as Leda remembers her own time as a mother and where her relationship with her daughters is now. 

Leda and Nina’s friendship sets in motion a fractured mosaic on motherhood told in two storylines, one set in the past and one set in the present, that drive the central narrative of the story. Leda says that “children are a crushing responsibility”. As the movie progresses you really start to feel this sense of responsibility as Leda confronts a decision she made in her past when she left her children while having an affair. I am not a mother so I could not personally relate to the struggles Leda and Nina went through in this movie. I still felt for them largely in part to Coleman who always delivers no matter what role she’s cast in. In the end, this is a very contained story about the messy side of motherhood. Here motherhood is not presented with rose-colored glasses instead it felt like something more raw and real.

The Lost Daughter Trailer

The Lost Daughter is streaming on Netflix.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdTwitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.

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