New York City, NY — by Lorena Campes
This story was originally published on New York University’s Washington Square News.
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s captivating first feature as a director, “The Lost Daughter,” follows Leda (Olivia Coleman), a gifted academic with a mysterious past who becomes obsessed with young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson) while on a beach vacation on the Greek islands.
Despite the implied charm of the remote island, which recalls films like “Mamma Mia,” Gyllenhaal’s seductive cinematography and dreamlike sequences cultivate a much eerier atmosphere. The film opens with a shaky close-up shot of Leda walking on the beach, foghorn blaring and waves crashing. After she collapses onto the rocks seconds later, a lively blues track marks the transition into a shot of Leda driving before she meets her charming beach rental’s caretaker, Lyle (Ed Harris).
The film is relatively predictable stylistically, alternating between flashbacks of Leda as an overwhelmed young mother (Jessie Buckley), scenes with her two young daughters, and scenes depicting her as a somewhat embittered academic on a solo vacation. At the same time, it features incredibly thoughtful and nuanced performances by its primarily woman-led cast, resulting in heart-wrenching, uncomfortable character studies.
Read the rest of the story at Washington Square News.