Editors note: Deadline’s Read the Screenplay series returns to exclusively reveal the scripts of films that will be factors in this year’s movie awards race.
Maggie Gyllenhaal made her directorial debut with The Lost Daughter, the adaptation of pseudonymous Italian author Elena Ferrante’s 2006 novel. Gyllenhaal, an Oscar-nominated actress, also adapted the screenplay and did not pull punches with the book’s provocative material. She has already been awarded for the feat, taking the Best Screenplay prize at the Venice Film Festival where the Netflix film premiered as well as at the Gotham Awards, where the pic picked up a leading four wins overall.
Olivia Colman stars as Leda, a woman taking a solo vacation at the beach after her children went to live with their father. Leda notices Nina (Dakota Johnson), a young mother struggling with a toddler. Nina’s frustrations with motherhood remind Leda of her own, so Leda flashes back to some of her early motherhood experiences. Jessie Buckley plays young Nina. Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Mescal and Dagmara Dominczyk also star.
The Lost Daughter deals with the challenges and difficulties of raising children. Colman gives an unapologetic performance as Leda and Johnson portrays the overwhelming responsibility of parenting. Gyllenhaal interweaves the flashbacks with the present-day story in order to present a provocative view of motherhood intended to spur conversations.
“I was bowled over by her work as a writer,” Gyllenhaal said about Ferrante on a panel at Deadline’s recent Contenders Film: Los Angeles event. “She was talking about things I had never heard anybody talk about before, in particular about being a woman in the world.”
After its premiere The Lost Daughter went on to play Telluride, Zurich, New York, BFI London and many more festivals. It won a total of four Gotham Awards (including Breakthrough Director, and Colman as Lead Performer). The New York Film Critics Circle also awarded Gyllenhaal Best First Feature.
Netflix will open The Lost Daughter in theaters December 17 and on Netflix on December 31.
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