Sensual, subversive and sun-drenched, “even mothers make mistakes” (Peter Debruge, Variety) in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s glittering directorial debut, the 2021 Venice Film Festival winner for Best Screenplay.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Silencing audiences at the 2021 Venice Film Festival like they’d been struck by a plank to the head, Maggie Gyllenhaal might easily have chosen more palatable material for her directing debut – but it could not have been more searingly memorable than her adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novella on motherhood gone astray.
“Olivia Colman gives a powerhouse turn in The Lost Daughter, prickly and combustible as Leda Caruso, a middle-aged languages professor on a working holiday in Greece. In flight from her past, possibly from herself, she stares at the sea as though it’s done her a great wrong and eats alone at the bar, repelling anyone who draws close. She haunts the resort like a ghost while other ghosts are haunting her.
...Gyllenhaal conjures [the novel] into humid, sensual cinema: a captivating miniature, full of telling details and little dramas writ large. The likes of Ed Harris, Dakota Johnson and Paul Mescal provide The Lost Daughter with an impressive Greek chorus. But this is Colman’s stage and her tragedy. You can’t take your eyes off her for a second.” — Xan Brooks, The Guardian
Gyllenhaal hides in plain sight, her intense curiosity channelled through the camera, capturing every conflicted nuance of Colman’s astonishing performance as time and again Leda finds herself as puzzled and terrified by her own behaviour, as much as the audience observing her are held in lock-step on her harrowing journey.
Winner of the Venice prize for Best Screenplay, Gyllenhaal and her glittering cast will undoubtedly and deservedly be appearing on many shortlists as the upcoming awards season gets underway. — Marten Rabarts