THE LOST DAUGHTER
Starring: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Ed Harris, Jack Farthing, Dagmara Dominczyk, Peter Sarsgaard, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal
The Lost Daughter is a total mixed bag. On one hand, it’s a compellingly written examination of motherhood that features great performances from Olivia Colman and especially Jessie Buckley. On the other hand, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s direction is very messy, the editing is choppy, and the cinematography is super weak. It just took way too long for me to realize what this movie was, and the final ten minutes feel like a completely different movie altogether. There are so many moments that amount to nothing. This isn’t a bad movie, but there are just too many glaring issues.
The Lost Daughter may not possess the masterful storytelling restraint of some other 2021 debuts, but it shows tremendous promise for Maggie Gyllenhaal in the director’s chair. Challenging material such as this teeters on a knife’s edge between being overbearing or too off-kilter to connect with an audience, but Gyllenhaal manages to straddle that line admirably, eliciting tremendous performances out of Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley. Films about parenthood generally prefer to have an optimistic view on the task despite its burdens; this is the rare instance where the cynicism towards it is not only understood, but absent of judgment.