“I am an unnatural mother.”Leda
Olivia Colman delivers a powerfully understated performance in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, a moody character exploration of a woman’s troubled past, which rises to the surface during a beach holiday alone. Colman is initially charming as the academic Leda, lonely and awkward as she can be, but this gradually wears away over the film’s two hours as we glimpse something darker beneath. With its structure hinting at a mystery, Gyllenhaal’s script leaves some motivations deliberately (if frustratingly) vague, but it is through seeing Jessie Buckley play Leda as a young mother that we recognise more overtly impulsive and selfish characteristics that are veiled — yet still present — in Colman’s performance. Through the family Leda meets on the beach, The Lost Daughter casts its net wider in addressing the societal expectations placed on young mothers in contrast to the harsh reality of parenting and the inescapable resentment and regret at lost opportunity despite love for one’s children.