Film Review: The Lost Daughter (2021)

Maggie Gyllenhaal with her directorial debut has created a film in ‘The Lost Daughter’ that is so unsettling that it could be considered one of the best psychological horror films of 2021. The film centres on a middle aged woman on holiday in Greece who becomes fixated on young mother she encounters on the beach which slowly reveals her tortured past with motherhood. Olivia Colman once again proves she is one of the best actresses in Hollywood with a performance as nuanced, tragic and complex as her Oscar winning role in ‘The Favourite’. Perhaps the best part of the film is its meditations on motherhood itself. Unique among films about motherhood it shows a woman who buckles under the pressure of being a ‘good mother’ and how unattainable the ideal of motherhood can be. As a son I found myself being confronted with the notion that sometimes mothers can’t bare to be around their own children which reminded me of the film ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’. Perhaps most mothers at some point fantasies about escaping the pressures of motherhood. The film also mediates on the cost of selfish acts and the idea that the grass isn’t always greener. The Lost Daughter shows us the unsettling grey truth of motherhood between the Maddona and Whore dichotomy of our culture. There is no such thing as a bad mother or good mother just degrees of women coping and struggling with an unrealistic ideal. The film builds through powerful flashbacks of Olivia Colman’s past to a tragic ending. A film not for easy viewing or easy answers. But if you brave the grey world of The Lost Daughter you will find a film with a powerful message and and even more powerful performance. Highly recommend it. 9/10

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