The Lost Daughter ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past. On Netflix and selected cinemas, including Chiswick Cinema.
Sometimes the quietest films are the ones that touch you in the most unexpected ways. I usually write my little reviews straight after watching a film, but with this one I had to wait a day to let it sink in and shake off that feeling of unease that had crept onto me.
Adapted from an Italian novel by Elena Ferrante, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut (she’s also written the screenplay for which she’s won the first price at the Venice Festival) is one of those films where nothing seems to happen and yet I found myself completely hooked and constantly on edge as if I was watching a thriller.
At the centre of it a towering performance by Olivia Coleman – who by this time can do no wrong in my book. Her enigmatic character has a secret she’s trying to hide, both to the world and to herself. Her behaviour is questionable, but fascinating at the same time.
She is sweet, bitchy, mysterious, sad, clumsy, caring, annoying, hateful, all in the space of minutes.
And as the camera moves closer and closer to her face, we can almost feel what she’s thinking, hear her thoughts (no need for any clunky voice over in this film) while the people around her seem to be oblivious to her problems.
In fact Coleman is so good, that whenever the film flashes back, it loses some of its grip and I just could wait for it to go back to her. This is not a reflection on Jessie Buckley who plays her younger version brilliantly too. The rest of the strong cast includes Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard and the always reliable Ed Harris.
They are all slightly unsympathetic characters, but all complex and multi-layered too, just like the film itself.
The Lost Daughter is a quiet and yet powerful film, loaded with eloquent looks and silences that might speak to women more than men, in fact mothers in particular.
It’s a film that dares to explore something which we hardly talk about, often for fear, or shame, or just because we don’t talk about this stuff, full stop. But it’s a known fact that most people with kids go (or have gone) through some of this: the struggle with parenthood (motherhood in particular), that feeling of being trapped because of your kids, that fear of losing your identity and that guilt that comes from the feeling that you might be a bad mother.
It’s a film that raises painful questions, without necessarily giving answers, something which might frustrate some viewers, to which I can only say that sometimes the journey is more important than the place of arrival.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
The Lost Daughter is available to watch on Netflix and selected cinemas, including Chiswick.
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