The idea of a woman wanting to escape the responsibilities of being a mother is front and center in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, THE LOST DAUGHTER. But man, oh man, can it be boring at times.
As I’m a male reviewing this film, I can’t help but think I’m not the target audience for the message hidden beneath the surface of this psychological suspense flick. But upon reflecting even more last night, I don’t think it matters if you are a male or woman watching THE LOST DAUGHTER. What matters is rule number one of filmmaking, “thou shall not bore the audience.” And sadly, I went from being immersed and then back to bored while watching what feels like a woman’s beachside homage to REAR WINDOW.
With that out of the way, I give big kudos to ALL the lead actresses in THE LOST DAUGHTER. They kill it. Olivia Coleman and Jessie Buckley, both playing the older and younger version of Leda, should receive Oscar nominations. They play a woman that isn’t a bad person. She just makes bad decisions within her life that cause a build-up of bitterness and regret. Also mesmerizing was Dakota Johnson playing Nina. Her lived-in trapped portrayal of what society expects a woman to be in motherhood is spot on.
Is THE LOST DAUGHTER in the film Nina, Leda, or a doll that goes missing? To spoil that would give away the not-so-shocking conclusion. However, I’m sure audiences will be able to guess what’s going on long before the tide comes in on the beautiful Greece beachside.
There are several moments where I loved this film, including every scene with the young Leda and whenever Nina is on screen with the older Leda. However, the sum of the parts doesn’t make it great. Nevertheless, it’s good enough that I look forward to re-watching it to unpack the heaviness of each emotional moment. I just wish the overall film didn’t get lost at sea, unable to stick the landing.
One character states, “Whenever someone tries to suppress stuff, there’s tyranny.” So if watching a two-hour film about a woman suppressing their emotions is your idea of a good time this holiday season, THE LOST DAUGHTER is for you.
THE LOST DAUGHTER is available in theatres and on Netflix starting 12/31/2021.