Starring: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson
Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Running Time: 122 mins
The Lost Daughter is an American film about a woman who, whilst on holiday on a Greek island, reflects on her motherhood, while she deals with a young mother in the present day having similar troubles to her own experience.
While this film certainly grabs your attention with an uneasy atmosphere and a magnetic performance from Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter is a rather frustrating watch. A story of peaks and troughs that struggles to maintain a consistent thread of drama, the film may act as an accurate depiction of depression, but it doesn’t do enough to keep itself on track over the course of its two hours of screen time.
However, let’s start on the plus side, notably with the lead performance by Olivia Colman. The Lost Daughter, as a film dealing with depression, needs a down-to-earth but still fiery figure at the centre of its story, and Colman fits that role perfectly. She’s likable and relatable, but by no means a perfect person, a reality which we see unfold ever more clearly as the story goes on.
While supporting players like Dakota Johnson and Jessie Buckley also add to the film’s emotional range, Colman’s unsettled performance is its most striking feature, and you do really connect with her over the course of the film, making you worried for her state of mind, and fascinated to understand why she is the way she is.
That story of unease is furthered by the overarching sense of tension that pervades through The Lost Daughter. It’s by no means an easy watch, and director Maggie Gyllenhaal does a good job of depicting the often inexplicable helter-skelter of emotions that a person suffering from depression can go through, leaving you regularly on edge as the film unfolds.
However, it’s exactly this approach that leads to The Lost Daughter to turn into a story of peaks and troughs, and a frustrating one at that. We see the highs and lows of our leading lady’s life both in the present day and through flashbacks, but in between the moments of revelation, where we understand more about who she really is, this movie really struggles to keep itself moving forward.
There is a sense of wallowing without progress in those rather lengthy periods, and while that again can absolutely be termed as a mirror to depression, it proves a barrier to the consistent dramatic threads that the story is trying to put forward, from the brutal realities of coping with depression, to the unfortunate truths that a woman can feel when she deems her past actions as unworthy or selfish.
There’s a lot of complex emotion at play in The Lost Daughter, and that should mean that the film would be an enthralling psychodrama at every moment. However, there are long periods where the film is frustrating and even dull, only helped by fleeting moments of gripping drama, a strong lead performance and a pervading sense of unease. So, that’s why I’m giving The Lost Daughter a 7.1 overall.