The Lost Daughter

The Lost Daughter ★★★★½

“It doesn't pass.”

A completely fascinating, new look at motherhood as an endless responsibility. Many viewers will struggle to stay with this protagonist, and my theater tonight was full of groans and judgmental whispers. Not everyone appreciates an “unlikable” protagonist, but what I think was more affronting was the character’s view of motherhood. It was shocking in places, but Colman plays it so beautifully that I was always compelled to understand her, even as she did the most wrong. Each new revelation expanded my understanding of the character, and each time I judged her, my heart also ached for her. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what choices she would make next, and it was clear that she herself was just as unsure. The sense of impulsivity was so strong, and the way she would go back and forth on every action was another way in which her selfish personality revealed itself to be much more complicated.

What I’m struck most by is how our protagonist not only is at peace with being seen as a bad person but how she directly invites it. When given the benefit of the doubt, she makes her negativity clear and removes all ambiguity. We see so much of this in the past timeline, which is woven through the film beautifully. When our protagonist is being kind to her children, it’s not because of an obligation to them; rather, it’s what she wants in that moment. People reject her honesty, but she never hides the fact that even her most loving moments still come from a selfish place. There’s pain in her voice when she admits the worst of it, but she knows she won’t change her ways. Easily one of the most fascinating character studies and films about being a parent I’ve ever seen, The Lost Daughter is a difficult film that’s very much worth the challenge.

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