Leda (Coleman) hangs her head in the car window and enjoys the sea air. He was alone on a day off from work in Greece. He rented an apartment just a short walk from the beach, where he would read books and documents – he is a professor of literature at Cambridge, Boston – while enjoying the sun.
Lyle is an elderly American (Harris) who runs the property, and Will (Paul Mescal) is an Irish student working on a beach concession. Ice has a rather uncomfortable interaction with them in response to the manifestation of their kindness, which leads to all the assumptions that it is a spiny species that prefers to be alone. Or maybe we just misunderstood their self-esteem and confidence. It’s hard to say.
Ending a lonely day or two for Leda:
A large family ends up on the beach with a wave of loud curses, slightly scary men and noisy children. Ice watched them with a slight frown. He seems a little obsessed with the interaction between a young mother, Nina (Dakota Johnson), and her preschool daughter.
Some 20 years ago, this triggered a flashback when Leda (Buckley) was a budding academic, married, and raised two young girls. It’s a fight for the younger Leda, who seems to love playing with his girls. While at the same time being fully taxed by them, pushed to the limit, torn between a career and starting a family.
The next day the damaged family is even more significant. They asked Leda to move to the next spot on the beach with an umbrella so everyone could be together. “I don’t feel like moving,” he replied. They call it a different four-letter word. But he still didn’t move.
After a while, pregnant Kali (Dagmara Dominchik) offers Leda an olive branch: a piece of birthday cake and an apology. They do chat politely just for a few minutes – how far you and everyone are – before Leda apologizes in return, and it seems sincere primarily and perhaps easy, but sometimes Leda is tough to read.
One day Leda was sitting in her beach chair, looking through her documents and books and watching a noisy family with interest, especially when Nina and her husband got into a nasty argument and soon discovered that the little girl was missing. You panic, and the family becomes the seeker. Then we see the younger Leda on the beach, one of the girls on her hip, desperately looking for another.
Leda calms Nina down before joining the quest:
And soon, he found the girl playing quietly in a nearby forest. Maybe this will balance all the other tensions between Leda and the band – if something is settled with Leda.
Nina thanks him in the background, the little girl is angry. Now you can’t find your favourite doll. They seek and seek. Long day. Leda offered a kind word and returned to her apartment, opened her bag and took out the doll.
The only disappointing thing about Coleman and Buckley playing the same character? They don’t share scenes. The two strongest actresses in today’s game – Coleman’s The Favorite and Buckley’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things both KOs – claim that every film they star in is a must-see.
For Leda, being a mother is crazy. Nothing is more enjoyable or more frustrating. He viewed his life as painful and suffocating about two decades ago. There was a time when Leda gave her little daughters their favourite childhood doll, and one of them cruelly stained them.
Perhaps this explains the theft of the doll – from a family of vaguely and ominously referred to as “the bad guys” – which she keeps throughout the film, sometimes holding her in her sleep, her tense, strange, sometimes embarrassing fate fuses into the exciting drama of confrontation with this character.
Why don’t you send the doll back? Did you tell them he found it hidden on the way to the beach? He buys clothes for her at a local toy store, where she meets Nina and Kali, who wonder why she should buy toys. She’s not a grandma, is she?
And then Leda had one of those generalized anxiety attacks, dizziness, which she had been having for years.
We could spend a lot of time examining Coleman and Buckley’s actions, behaviours, expressions, and references to aspects of Leda’s character. Who she is, where she might come from (the film constantly eschews and probably avoids direct references to her upbringing.).
Our inability to take Leda under our hands makes this drama exciting and unpredictable. That isn’t easy. She is warm. He’s selfish. He is selfless. He’s cruel. He is nice. It brings the crowds. Isn’t that all of us when we know ourselves and ourselves well?
We feel Gyllenhaal, Coleman, and Buckley grapple with the complex emotional experience of motherhood. I cannot repair it. Gyllenhaal continued to focus on Leda’s point of view – his peering gaze, which was judging Nina and her family from a distance, was evident. He seemed fed up with the chaos and togetherness.
In flashback, a weekend without his family is a joy, in his loneliness. In return for his passionate professional pursuits, confirmed in the arrogant, bearded, lustful academic form (if you’ve ever been a cocky, bearded, lustful academic, Peter Sarsgaard, your husband) who is attracted to him through his work.
It’s no surprise to see that Gyllenhaal inspires depth in performance from his cast. His work on camera is often sensitive and complex. But their control over the material, their guaranteed pace.
Their palpable suspense, their thoughtful yet humble visual presentation are inextricably linked to their handling of the ambiguous and seductive characters. With “The Lost Daughter“, she shaped the character, cultivating the atmosphere and evoking emotions – love, longing, fear, melancholy – that will be remembered and linger long after her beautifully composed final shot. It does feels like the work of an experienced director.