Maggie Gyllenhaal's powerful film, The Lost Daughter, is a drama that is more about the challenges and taboos surrounding motherhood and rightfully it was named the year's best indie film at the Spirit Awards recently. Gyllenhaal, who has been known as an actress in films such as The Dark Knight and Secretary, won prizes for winning the best screenplay and best director, for her debut in both fields. The Film Independent Spirit Awards gave awards to honor low and mid-budget movies at a happening event at Santa Monica beach near Los Angeles.
Winning Awards Everywhere
The Lost Daughter is based on Elena Ferrante's novel which has also been nominated for three Academy Awards such as the best actress for Olivia Colman.
She plays a mother estranged from her children and suffering from guilt pangs as she has not been able to bring up her children in a conventional way. Gyllenhaal expressed that her film is in an unusual language that delves deep to go behind the psyche of women.
The Backstory of the Protagonist
We learn about the protagonist Leda whose backstory unfolds, which reveals the story through flashbacks through which we gradually come to know about the whole picture.
She is a young wife and mother who’s trying to build an academic career (her chosen form of work is Italian literature). Leda, played by Jessie Buckley (younger role), is trying her best to raise her two daughters, but she is facing problems in the way. Her husband is oblivious to her problems. A flirtatious fellow academic (Peter Sarsgaard) has more than a passing interest in her, and she gets entangled in an affair.
The repercussions of her younger life affect the older Leda as she becomes fascinated by Callie’s sister-in-law, Nina (Dakota Johnson) who is a young mother herself. Leda observes Nina on the beach with her young daughter from a distance. She and Nina gradually forge a friendship albeit grudgingly. The relationship is fraught with hidden agendas and is more complicated than what you see.
Colman's Stellar Performance
The Lost Daughter has a layered storyline. Leda's behavior seems odd at the onset. She’s socially awkward, and her directness often appalls people. But there is a kindness streak in her as well. She wants to reach out to others who may be floundering. She relates to the problems of others.
Colman gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as a woman well into middle age, yet you cannot categorize her. She is a combination of a lot of things and it is difficult to nail her as one type. Her idiosyncrasies never seem unbelievable. In fact, by the end of the film, you get a truly fleshed-out character and understand her well, thanks to a well-written role and Colman's sterling act.
An Exploration of Motherhood
The central theme of The Lost Daughter is bold and complicated. It’s a discovery of how motherhood can be as opposed to how it is supposed to be. Buckley's performance is terrific too and complements Colman perfectly. Both Colman and Buckley are wonderful performers, but the movie and the screenplay may make you hate them at the onset. Gyllenhaal presents the character as it is and does not sugar-coat them in order to appeal to the audience. The characters of the films are so well-etched that you feel the director has given everything to make them stand out. You may not like the characters, but you can't help but empathize with them.
To call The Lost Daughter a great debut may be the understatement of the year, her debut suggests that a filmmaker knows everything about filmmaking and more. What we see in The Lost Daughter is everything coming together in one whole union - great acting doing incredible justice to a great script. That's what makes the film what it is, unsettling yet enticing!
No wonder it is one of the best Indie films to come out in recent times. It is available on a streaming platform of Netflix. So go ahead catch up with it and let us know. How much did you like the movie? What are the things you liked about it most? And why this particular film forces you to put on your thinking cap? Write to us in the comments section below.