25
Feb
2022
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The Lost Daughter

The Lost Daughter

Olivia Colman’s Professor Leda Caruso is looking for a quiet slice of heaven with her beach holiday. However, her perfect idyll is shattered by a loud invasion by locust-like holiday-makers. As part of their pestilence, they’re rich, they’re privileged and they’re obnoxiously beautiful. Yet despite this, through her hawkish shades, Leda can see them perfectly well. 

So, when a young child from their group goes missing, everyone gets roped into their drama. Fortunately, Leda finds the missing girl (Elena) in a sheltered cove and shepherds her back to their boozy entourage. Superficially professing their gratitude, another bout of hysteria immediately kicks off when Elena discovers that her favourite doll is missing.  

Wisely retiring from this second slice of unnecessary drama, Leda heads back to her apartment only to be told later that Elena’s group are dangerous and should be avoided. Well, then the simple thing to do is to avoid them right? Except, that Leda is the person who stole the little girl’s doll…

The Lost Daughter has a deceptively simplistic setup and yet what follows it is anything but...

In terms of its story, The Lost Daughter has a deceptively simplistic setup and yet what follows it is anything but. Adapted by first-time director Maggie Gyllenhaal, her feature debut is a master class in shrewd casting. Peter Sarsgaard sheds his characteristically intimidating glare to be a warm and fuzzy lecturer. Ed Harris is a brilliantly washed-up ex-pat landlord and Dakota Johnson really surprises as Elena’s wastrel mother, Nina. Yet both Jessie Buckley and Olivia Colman own the heart of this film for their past and present depictions of Leda.

Jessie Buckley has got Olivia Colman’s Leeds accent down pat and the weighting and pacing of her delivery, complete with Colman’s slight mannerisms, are just perfection. Equally, Olivia Colman’s suffocated grief will have you on the edge of your seat as the film teases you with the reasons behind Leda’s theft. Casually able to turn to ice mid-sentence whilst tumbling through an apology you won’t be able to help marvelling at both actresses’ depictions of Leda.

So, there you go. Cut the best actress Oscar down the middle and give each of them a slice because they both own it. Whilst Kirsten Stewart’s Spencer definitely deserves a nod, I think the performances in The Lost Daughter are just in another league. 

In short, you’ve got to see this film. You must see this film. Everyone is compromised. No one is an obvious avatar for the story, and the acting, staging and direction are all beyond belief.

As Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut feature, I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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