Actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal, takes the director’s chair for her feature debut, The Lost Daughter. The psychological thriller follows a college professor, Leda (Olivia Colman), who is forced to confront her troubled past after she meets a young woman (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter while on vacation in Greece.
An ambitious debut from Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter does not fear tackling the darker and more challenging themes of motherhood through tender performances and intimate storytelling. It’s a complicated film that isn’t afraid of to peel away to the core of its flawed characters — a true masterclass in character study filmmaking.
And there is no greater master of acting than Olivia Colman.
The Academy Award winning actress known for her monarch roles in The Favourite and Netflix’s The Crown absolutely commands the screen creating an unsettling, raw and remarkable performance as Leda, a woman who is deeply haunted by her past and her experience balancing the job of a mother and scholar. Most films and works of art glorify motherhood, but it’s refreshing to see an unsettling truth with the difficulty of the role.
And Colman illustrates this struggle in such a nuanced way. Not to mention there are some enjoyable moments for her fans including her dancing to Bon Jovi and her angrily screaming at kids to shut up while watching a movie (a damn mood, may I say).
Seriously. What can’t Olivia Colman do? She’s just perfect. One of the greatest talents of our time.
Jessie Buckley also gives a strong performance as Leda’s younger self. She’s a brilliant match to play a younger version of Coleman’s complex character and her tormented struggles. Plus it’s kind of crazy how their vocal inflections sound almost identical. Buckley is so underrated as an actress, so I am hoping more take note after this performance.
However The Lost Daughter’s sluggish pace, disjointed storytelling, claustrophobic filming style and Dakota Johnson’s intensely smudged eyeliner made it difficult to stay totally engaged.
It does make me wonder if Colman wasn’t such a tour de force, if I would have been as invested in the story…or if the ending would have stuck with me as prominently.
Final Thoughts: Olivia Colman astonishes in a solid and ruthlessly honest direction debut. But if it wasn’t for Coleman, it wouldn’t be as memorable.