There is no disputing that Olivia Colman is one of the finest and most bankable actresses working today. I struggle to think of a single show or movie where she hasn't knocked it out of the park and that includes The Lost Daughter.
So much so that she has been Oscar nominated for her role as Leda Caruso, a Professor of comparative literature who decides to take a working holiday on a Greek island.
For those who don't know the story of The Lost Daughter, let me summarise it for you.
Leda arrives on the island, discovers the beach club where she decides to do most of her work until that is, the beach is taken over by a very large American family.
One member of that family happens to be young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson), who is struggling with her toddler daughter, Elena.
And it is Nina that Leda starts to identify with as we see in a series of flashbacks.
With younger Leda played by Jessie Buckley, we start to get a real insight into the overwhelming struggles of motherhood experienced by Leda when her own two children were just seven and four years old.
As the story of The Lost Daughter unfolds we learn what happened to Leda all those years ago, the unconventional choices she made as a parent and just why she relates so closely with Nina.
Is The Lost Daughter Worth Watching?
This is where my appreciation for the movie wavers a little. There is no disputing that the three female leads, Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson are a brilliant cast.
They are beyond relatable as struggling mothers in a world that tells them motherhood should be an endlessly wonderful and fulfilling experience. As Leda says herself, she is an unnatural mother.
So too is the direction of the movie, a directorial debut for Maggie Gyllenhaal who has also been Oscar nominated for best screenplay.
However, despite all of that, I just didn't get it. So little was explained and with absolutely no background story, as a viewer I felt a little lost as to what the point of The Lost Daughter was.
I got that the family on the beach were annoying, rude and disruptive but there was an underlying animosity radiating from them that seemed disproportionate to the overall story.
There was far too much emphasis placed on a doll, which bordered on creepy and despite hints that all was not well with Leda, there was no real resolution as to what was going on with her.
Billed as a psychological drama, the tension rumbled underneath but sadly never really came to anything.
Is The Lost Daughter A True Story?
No, The Lost Daughter is not a true story. It is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante.
For the purpose of this Netflix movie, it was written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
What Was The Point Of The Lost Daughter?
The Lost Daughter has been cited as a ‘daringly ambitious story' and given that we are constantly being spoon-fed an unrealistic Disneyesque impression of motherhood, I can see why this movie breaks down a lot of barriers.
I finished the movie really pleased that the characters were portrayed as normal women, who each dealt with their struggles as best they could.
Sometimes it's easier to see yourself reflected back in somebody else going through the same problems. Maybe perspective is not a bad thing as we look back on our lives.
And I guess that's the point of the film. The consequences of the choices you make can and will last you a lifetime.
The Lost Daughter Oscar Nominations
The Lost Daughter had its world premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in September 2021, where Maggie Gyllenhaal won the Golden Osella Award for Best Screenplay.
It began streaming on Netflix on December 31 and since then has received plenty of critical acclaim.
The Lost Daughter has received three Oscar nominations for the 94th Academy Awards for Best Actress (Olivia Colman), Best Supporting Actress (Jessie Buckley), and Best Adapted Screenplay for Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Cast of The Lost Daughter
As far as casting goes, The Lost Daughter is right up there for individual performances. Even the ‘smaller' roles were superbly played, especially by the younger kids.
Olivia Colman as Leda Caruso
Jessie Buckley as young Leda Caruso
Dakota Johnson as Nina
Ed Harris as Lyle, the caretaker of the apartment
Peter Sarsgaard as Professor Hardy
Dagmara Domińczyk as Callisto “Callie”
Paul Mescal as Will, who works at the beach club
Robyn Elwell as Bianca, Leda's older daughter
Ellie Blake as Martha, Leda's younger daughter
Jack Farthing as Joe
Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Toni
Athena Martin as Elena
Panos Koronis as Vassili