Olivia Colman Shines in “Lost Daughter”

Now available on Netflix

Complete with a near tragedy on a Greek island cracking open a rush of parallel memories, fruit metaphors standing in for parents and progeny and a morose but sympathetic female protagonist holding court over a floodgate of weighty emotions, this rich text would be this month’s book club pick if it weren’t already a movie. First-time writer/director Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter (B+) is indeed based on a novel, and the longtime actress is masterful behind the camera to bring a fraught tale to dramatic life on the screen. Olivia Colman in the central role is inspired casting as a professor hoping to enjoy a secluded beachside holiday when an extended family of multigenerational revelers crashes her solace and dusts up some prickly memories, some about a thematic taboo: a mother’s ambivalence about motherhood. Colman is splendid in her characterization and quite convincing even as she carries out a series of unconventional choices. Dakota Johnson is a luminous foil as a confused young mom in the coastal crowd and Jessie Buckley a talented addition as Colman’s character in illuminating flashbacks. The film’s structure adroitly plumbs the consequences of life choices but doesn’t always provide complete clarity or a consistent pace for the central story. Still, it’s a very assured filmmaking debut, a meaningful meditation on topics not often covered in the movies and a sensational spotlight on a talented ensemble. Bookmark this one for those seeking smart drama with subtext. 

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