Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her directorial debut with The Lost Daughter, a psychological drama based on the novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante. With the award winning Olivia Colman leading the film and a strong screenplay at its disposal, is this the dark horse of awards season? 

Leda (Olivia Colman) is a middle-aged divorcee devoted to her work. While on vacation on a holiday island, Leda encounters a family where an event leads to her becoming overwhelmed by memories of the difficult, unconventional choices she made as a mother, and the consequences for herself and her family.

There's a real intimacy brought to The Lost Daughter from Maggie Gyllenhaal, utilising close shots of her subject to get right up close and personal. You can sense everything she's feeling from the looks she gives the family, Gyllenhaal writing a meandering screenplay that focuses on Leda seeing herself in Nina, triggering flashbacks to a troubled past. 

It does run out of steam towards the end however, considering this is her directorial debut, Gyllenhaal delivers a very assured piece of filmmaking that will lead to bigger and better things. Having Olivia Colman and Ed Harris dance to Livin' on a Prayer in your first film is not a bad way to start mind. 

Leading the film, Olivia Colman delivers a quietly powerful performance as Leda, lost in herself as she tries to move on with life all while getting caught up in the affairs of others. She's very much a national treasure but Jessie Buckley has her crown firmly in her sights, emotive and assured in flashbacks to Leda's past. Having the likes of Buckley and Colman playing the past and present iterations of the lead character works wonders here for Gyllenhaal. Big fan of Ed Harris as well, keen on making friends with Leda but kept at somewhat of a distance as she begins to spiral a little. 

The Lost Daughter is a very interesting film in the way it hones in on a woman's past issues triggered by her present day scenario, the two timelines intertwining to great effect as we see some of the reasons why Leda may be acting out in the present. It's a sterling effort from Maggie Gyllenhaal with her directorial debut and Olivia Colman once again proves just how good an actress she is with an understated performance that will surely see her secure several nominations this awards season.

Verdict: ★★★★


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