The Lost Daughter (2021) - 8/10
Updated: Feb 16, 2022
Leda (Olivia Colman), a divorced writer is on holiday in Greece. Don’t worry this isn’t Shirley Valentine. Things start calmly. Until a family show up and disturb the short lived idyllic tranquility. They’re a reminder of the past she’s left behind… they’re also a bit loud and annoying. Colman portrays this all beautifully without barely uttering a word. As director Maggie Gyllenhaal treats the opening act as one wonderfully drifting montage. Lena though, unassuming as she seems, has a darkness to her. One that masks a fragility and gives her an edge that draws you in. She’s a mystery or her past is. Slowly though, we learn more as events remind her of previous experiences. Mistakes, regrets… lessons. She feels a connection to the brash newcomers, especially Nina (Dakota Johnson) and her young daughter. Things get uneasy, but when Lena opens up, she’s fascinating. Or is it Colman? I think it is. She takes the most subtle dialogue and captivates you. She certainly captivates Will (Paul Mescal), the young man who works at the beach. Again don’t worry, not Shirley Valentine. Nina and her family are rude, dysfunctional and apparently “bad people”. Lena though (also brilliantly played by Jessie Buckley in the flashback sequences) has a lifetime of struggle behind her that’s fortified her. There’s a lot to unpack. Lena’s struggle to be heard, learning how strong she is. Patient, fearless, brilliant. Nina sees this too, “I want to be like that lady”. It’s an unusual film. Layered with deep emotion. Powerful to the very end and Colman is utterly magnificent.