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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Acknowledges the complex emotions that some parents feel when balancing their love for their children with maintaining their own identity and self-fulfillment.
Positive Role Models
The primary characters make lots of mistakes/iffy choices, but they also experience personal growth.
All main characters are White. Women are fully developed characters and have agency (if not always in a positive way).
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Violence & Scariness
Abrupt (but non-explicit) stabbing. Worrisome moments when a child is missing. Child slaps parent. Arguments. A character's health condition puts her in danger a couple of times.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of passionate sex scenes, with partial nudity (a breast and a woman's backside). Masturbation.
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Very strong language, including "a--hole," "bitch," "cock," "c--t," "c-m," "d--k," "p---y," and many uses of "f--k." A couple talks "dirty" to each other, using crass sexual terminology.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Lost Daughter is a drama about a mother's choices starring Oliva Colman and Dakota Johnson. Adapted and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal from Elena Ferrante's same-named novel, it challenges the idea that all women are fulfilled by having children. Parents (especially moms) may relate to and appreciate the movie's painfully real parenting moments, including endlessly crying and clingy kids and a mother's desire to maintain her own identity. But kids, particularly young ones, are largely depicted as a burden with little reward, making this an iffy choice for family viewing. Expect explicit sexual conversations and passionate sex scenes, some including partial nudity (breast, bottom). Strong language throughout includes "f--k," "c--k," "c--t," and more. Adult characters drink, argue, and lash out at each other, and there's an abrupt (but not graphic) stabbing. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This female-driven drama reflects a reality that may feel far-too familiar for many parents: Having kids is draining, and sometimes moms may dream of throwing in the towel. And while Maggie Gyllenhaal makes an impressive directing debut, The Lost Daughter isn't a movie to watch with your kids -- even teens. Through Leda's cold, annoyed gaze as the obnoxious new arrivals interrupt her seaside solace, we similarly fixate on Nina and her adorable daughter. Nina and her preschooler frolic on the beach, seemingly embodying the dream/myth sold to many women about what motherhood is like. But as the days turn into weeks, Leda observes the reality: Nina is overwhelmed, feeling saddled by her little one's constant need for attention and smothered by obligation. Nina's experiences trigger Leda's own ghosts, and it's clear that she's hiding a secret.
As we dig deeper into Leda's past (Jessie Buckley plays her in the 1990s-set flashbacks), the movie doesn't just take the shine off the parenting apple: You're left feeling like the whole idealistic concept is a bit rotten. The romanticism of marriage is also under the microscope here, with Gyllenhaal giving that side of things more time than Leda's relationship with her own mother and now-adult daughters (which feels like a miss). Leda doesn't understand her own behavior, but the viewers need to -- and the symbolism is cloudier without the clearer context provided by Elena Ferrante's source novel. Daughters, mothers, daughters, husbands, sons -- we're all left a little lost.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Movies with Strong Female Characters
Drama Movies That Tug at the Heartstrings
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate