'The Lost Daughter': Maggie Gyllenhaal's Directorial Debut Will Star Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, and More

Maggie Gyllenhaal has been acting for close to 30 years, and in that time she’s worked with an eclectic collection of top tier filmmakers: Spike Jonze, Christopher Nolan, Penny Marshall, Oliver Stone, and more. Now she’s been bitten by the directing bug herself, and is all set to make her directorial debut with a film adaptation of author Elena Ferrante’s novel The Lost Daughter.

Today, we found out who will star in Gyllenhaal’s new movie. Oscar winner Olivia Colman is set to play the lead role, and she’ll be joined by Dakota Johnson (Bad Times at the El Royale), Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), and Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern). Get details about the story below.

Gyllenhaal is making her screenwriting debut as well as her directing debut with this movie. Variety describes the story’s plot like this: “The Lost Daughter tells the story of a college professor (Colman) whose own psychological trauma begins to resurface after meeting a woman (Johnson) and her young daughter while on summer vacation.” The book’s description on Amazon is even more detailed:

Leda is a middle-aged divorcée devoted to her work as an English teacher and to her two children. When her daughters leave home to be with their father in Canada, Leda anticipates a period of loneliness and longing. Instead, slightly embarrassed by the sensation, she feels liberated, as if her life has become lighter, easier. She decides to take a holiday by the sea, in a small coastal town in southern Italy. But after a few days of calm and quiet, things begin to take a menacing turn. Leda encounters a family whose brash presence proves unsettling, at times even threatening. When a small, seemingly meaningless, event occurs, Leda is overwhelmed by memories of the difficult and unconventional choices she made as a mother and their consequences for herself and her family. The apparently serene tale of a woman’s pleasant rediscovery of herself soon becomes the story of a ferocious confrontation with an unsettled past.

Colman has proven time and again that she’s an incredibly gifted comedic performer, but this sounds like a project that will let her once again dig into some more dramatic material.

Gyllenhaal issued a statement about the project:

“When I finished reading Elena Ferrante’s ‘The Lost Daughter,’ I felt that something secret and true had been said out loud. And I was both disturbed and comforted by that. I immediately thought how much more intense the experience would be in a movie theatre, with other people around. And I set to work on this adaptation. I find that the script has attracted other people interested in exploring these secret truths about motherhood, sexuality, femininity, desire. And I’m thrilled to continue my collaboration with such brave and exciting actors and filmmakers.”

I’m always curious about the results when actors make the jump to directing, so hopefully The Lost Daughter marks the start of an exciting next act in Gyllenhaal’s already-impressive career.

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