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San Diego Film Festival

San Diego Film Festival celebrates our eleventh anniversary with five days filled with 100 award-winning films; intimate gatherings with filmmakers and celebrities; high-powered industry workshops and four nights of San Diego`s most glamorous parties.




“The Lost Daughter” - REVIEW

“Don’t Watch This Film If You’re Expecting” - San Diego Film Festival Reviews: “The Lost Daughter”, United States, 2021, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal.


Sunday night's third gala screening was none other than Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter, set to hit audiences on Netflix December 31st.


The film stars Olivia Colman as Leda, a middle-age professor trying to catch some sun on the coast of Greece over Summer break. During her time spent on the beach she becomes increasingly entrapped with a young mother named Nina (Dakota Johnson) as Nina navigates the sometimes affectionate, sometimes suffocating vices of motherhood. Leda’s distant observations of Nina propell her to resurface her own dark past with motherhood, in brief flashbacks of her younger self (Jessie Buckley). The more involved Leda becomes in Nina’s life, the more hostile and aggressive Nina’s close-knit family unit acts towards Leda. 


At the core of the movie is a character that would usually be perceived as an “anti-hero,” but Colman’s fiercely unfettered performance introduces a layer of depth to the role that is hard to not empathize with. It would be unforgivable to not also mention Buckley’s outstanding performance as the younger version of Leda. Together they subtly drive the perception of a singular character so synchronously, that it is hard to believe the two are not distant versions of each other in real life.


The story challenges preconceived notions about the “gift” of motherhood, and displays the severity of postpartum depression, which seems to be handed down generation to generation. Gyllenhaal’s approach is new and takes a lot of guts, but unfortunately tends to get lost in moments of built up tension that never really find a release. A scene that comes to mind involves a threatening man standing in the way of Leda and her rental car, or at least what she claims is her rental car. Tension builds when the man won’t let her get in her car, but the tension quickly dissolves when she realizes that it is in fact not her rental car. On paper this moment is probably a reflection of her guilt and the way she feels towards her relationship to this specific character, but just typing that out seems like a stretch. Scenes like these play on our hopes for a thrilling narrative like the trailer promises, but end up leaving us disappointed and overshadow any semblance of a powerful message.


At the end of the day the film definitely has its flaws, however the incredible ensemble of performances redeem the rest of the film and make it somewhat of an enjoyable watch.


Score: 3.5/5


Written by Michael Schnee



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San Diego Film Festival celebrates the art & style of film for five days in September with 100 award-winning films; intimate gatherings with filmmakers and celebrities; high-powered industry workshops and five nights of San Diego`s most glamorous parties!

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