One of the success stories of this year’s festival season was that of Maggie Gyllenhaal, making one of the strongest actor-to-director transitions in recent memory with her debut feature The Lost Daughter. She took home the Golden Osella Award for Best Screenplay after premiering at Venice, swept up some more critical acclaim at the festivals in Telluride and New York, and now approaches its December release on a wave of positive word-of-mouth.
Today, the first trailer has come along to show off the prickly, luxurious drama that’s gotten advance crowds all a-titter. Anchored by a trio of extraordinary performances from Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, and Jessie Buckley, the adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel pays acute attention to the tribulations of womanhood, and motherhood in particular.
Colman portrays the Italian literature academic Leda Caruso, come to a Grecian island town for a holiday of sun and relaxation, but memories of her past have other plans. Seeing the quiet desperation of beguiling young mother Nina (Johnson) reminds Leda of her maternal transgressions all those years ago, shown through flashbacks in which she’s played by Buckley.
At the grand opening in Venice, our own Sophie Monks Kaufman was positive on the slippery psychodrama, albeit with reservations: “The Lost Daughter is a strange beast with an unwieldy structure and an uncanniness that is never quite anchored by events,” Kaufman wrote in her review. “Disparate plotlines abound without coming together in a satisfyingly coherent way. It may not all add up but this is an ambitious and taboo-tackling first feature with an atmosphere that lingers thanks to gutsy performances from Colman and Buckley.”
With respectable reviews, a fresh auteur in Gyllenhaal, and a star-studded cast that also includes Paul Mescal and Ed Harris as the men passing through these women’s lives, the film will likely be a topic of frequent conversation as we roll into awards season. And for just the price of a ticket, you won’t find a cheaper way to take the Greek beach getaway of your dreams.
The Lost Daughter comes to cinemas in the US on 17 December, Netflix on 31 December, and then cinemas in the UK on 7 January, 2022.
Published 18 Oct 2021
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