Motherhood under the magnifying glass: The Dark Daughter and how critics reacted to the Netflix drama – La Tercera

He directed a dystopian short film for the Pandemic Film Collection Homemade (from the production company Fábula and Netflix) and last July she debuted as a jury at the first Cannes Film Festival since 2019. That is since the arrival of the Covid, because before she cultivated an attractive career as an actress in films such as The Secretary (2002) and The knight of the night (2008), in addition to The Deuce, David Simon and HBO’s series about the world of porn.

To all these multiple facets Maggie Gyllenhaal added since September the filmmaker. On the verge of turning 44, the actress premiered at the last Venice Film Festival –with a wonderful reception– The dark daughter (The lost daughter), her first time behind the cameras of a feature film.

Adapted from the 2006 novel by Neapolitan Elene Ferrante, the film seemed like an intimidating challenge. Not only is it a book authored by one of the key pens of recent Italian literature, but the original material has a thorny nature, with a complex leap to the big screen. Through first-person narration, the story follows a British academic who goes on a trip alone to an island, where instead of finding rest, she meets a younger woman with a young daughter who forces her to face her turbulent firsts. years as a mother.

Inspired, according to what she has said, by the cinema of prodigious directors such as Lucrecia Martel, Claire Denis and Jane Campion –also in the running for awards, for The power of the dog-, Gyllenhaal executes her translation adhering to the novel, while giving nerve and thriller touches a plot that takes place mainly in the head of the protagonist, here delicately interpreted by Olivia Colman (The favourite, The Crown) and as a youngster by Jessie Buckley (I think of the end).

At the heart of the film, as in Ferrante’s work, is a stark approach to the darker edges of motherhood. A zoom to the daily wear and tear of parenting, to the absence of guilt for not wanting to delay, to the fact that self-love can be as much or greater than that dedicated to children.

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THE LOST DAUGHTER. (L-R) DAKOTA JOHNSON as NINA, OLIVIA COLMAN as LEDA. CR: YANNIS DRAKOULIDIS/NETFLIX © 2021

“Her books say something true, honest, about a female experience in the world that she had never seen expressed before,” said the newcomer director about the universes of Ferrante, whose adaptation in this case has brought her dozens of recognitions, starting with the award for Best Screenplay in Venice and going through the four distinctions it received at the Gotham Awards. The next thing that could come is the Oscars, where both Colman and Gyllenhaal can make a strong presence.

Describing it as “effective, at times haunting and alive,” Time magazine celebrated the film’s achievements. “In the center of The dark daughter there is a daring and dangerous idea: it is an exploration of what motherhood can drain a woman: a dramatic change from how rewarding it is to have and raise children (…) Gyllenhaal shapes these ideas beautifully, in a way that it feels inquisitive and exploratory, never critical. And you have the feeling that he has fallen a bit in love with his actors ”.

“Worldly and taboo” are the terms used by the Vulture medium to talk about the feelings of ambivalence that the film raises around motherhood. “It is also a testament to the way the film unfolds in a parallel language of women, in a vocabulary constructed from minute observations and almost imperceptible gestures”

The dark daughter looks at the confused humanity of motherhood with the kind of empathetic approach normally reserved for gangsters, serial killers and other antiheroes, ”highlights the Los Angeles Times. “Leda’s journey is twisted and somewhat inexplicable (it is not, it must be said, violent or abusive). But the beauty and importance of The dark daughter it is her ability to have two thoughts at the same time: a mother can love her children, deeply, truly and need something more from life as well ”, she adds.

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THE LOST DAUGHTER. JESSIE BUCKLEY as YOUNG LEDA. CR. YANNIS DRAKOULIDIS/NETFLIX

At the local level, the film critic Ana Josefa Silva points out in her article for Ex-Ante: “There are no tragedies or heartbreaking dramas here: there is, neither more nor less, that which is always in the shadows, the routine, the tiredness, boredom. That which nobody publishes on Instagram (…) Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson are the splinters that finish rebuilding the broken woman of The dark daughter”.

Less convinced, the Argentine critic Horacio Bernades wrote on Page 12: “Beyond high-culture appointments, the conflict that raises The dark daughter It is most earthly, and the raccontos that explain the birth of Leda’s guilt are, cinematographically, quite crass. Certain subplots or embryos of such (…) seem to be only to last two hours. Leda’s insane act, her perspiring and helpless confusion, Colman’s dedication partly corrode, with their vividness, the ‘serious’ film veneer that The Dark Daughter imbibes itself with ”.

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Motherhood under the magnifying glass: The Dark Daughter and how critics reacted to the Netflix drama – La Tercera