Parents' Guide to

The Lost Daughter

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Drama shines harsh light on motherhood; swearing, nudity.

Movie R 2021 121 minutes
The Lost Daughter Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 1 parent review

age 17+

Skip this one

This film was downright bizarre and confusing. The frequent flashbacks were hard to follow, and often characters' behavior was unrelatable. We all kept feeling like we were missing things even after turning on captions hoping that would help. There were also a few sex scenes more graphic than needed or appreciated given how difficult the whole story was to follow. Too much foul language as well. Overall a bomb.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

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.

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