Combustible Celluloid
With: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Domińczyk, Jack Farthing, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris
Written by: Maggie Gyllenhaal, based on a novel by Elena Ferrante
Directed by: Maggie Gyllenhaal
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content/nudity and language
Running Time: 121
Date: 12/17/2021

The Lost Daughter (2021)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Drag Doll

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her feature writing and directing debut with The Lost Daughter (2021), based on a novel by Elena Ferrante. It concerns a professor, Leda (Olivia Colman), who takes a solitary beach vacation and finds her quiet interrupted by the arrival of a large family. Leda helps Nina (Dakota Johnson) find her lost daughter, but also decides to steal the child's beloved doll. In flashback, young Leda (Jessie Buckley) faces the overwhelming challenges of being a new mother and finds a kind of freedom when she attends a conference and meets a charismatic colleague (Peter Sarsgaard). Gyllenhaal films with a confident dreaminess and slowness, though the flashback sequences feel more rushed and cluttered. Even if it has the ability to frustrate, it's an accomplished film, which has the courage to assert — against the grain of traditional Hollywood movies — that motherhood may not be for every woman.

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