Debut writer-director Maggie Gyllenhaal takes big risks for her Elena Ferrante adaptation, “The Lost Daughter,” about a woman on holiday confronting her complicated years as a mother. The dark drama essentially balances two movies: one with Olivia Colman as present-day Leda, and another with Jessie Buckley as her younger self in extended flashback sequences. Exclusive to IndieWire, check out a Netflix featurette that includes interviews with Buckley, Colman, Gyllenhaal, and Peter Sarsgaard about fleshing out the younger half of the character.
“I don’t think she’s a bad mother, Leda. I would never judge her as that. I actually think she’s an incredible mother. What she gives to her daughters is to cut the cord of repression,” Buckley says of her Leda, a young mother juggling academia and two children who flirts with a possible infidelity — and a life outside her one as a wife and mom. “Her sexuality and hunger for that part of herself was really important, and so I felt excited about stepping into that and owning it.”
“The most intimate stuff you can do as an actor is emotional. Watching a person wake up like that, and, ‘This is possible,’ is amazing,” Sarsgaard said. “Cut to in person years later, played by Olivia, and where did the laugh go?”
“It’d just be ridiculous to ask an audience to believe rationally that they’re actually the same person,” said Gyllenhaal of casting her two (different-looking and different-sounding) actresses. “So what do you do? I wanted two fully formed, incredible artists whose souls could vibrate with one another.”
“The Lost Daughter” is now in theaters and will begin streaming on Netflix December 31.
From IndieWire’s review: “We’ve already had the beginnings of Leda’s larger story in a few flashbacks to the time when her daughters were around Elena’s age and when she herself was Jessie Buckley – who despite a physical dissimilarity that Gyllenhaal makes no crass attempt to hide, has a such a synergy of body language and mannerism with Colman, that their performances became one palimpsest, the lines of one showing faintly through onto the other: Buckley an echo of the past for Colman; Colman a ghost of the future for Buckley. “