IonCinema: Colman expertly conveys the complex intersections of Leda’s actions, which out of context might seem insane. Condensed into a handful of interactions (including a reveal Gyllenhaal takes longer to confirm than in the novel), her strength and insecurities make for an exhausting experience thanks to the unyielding anxiety regarding the doll.
AwardsWatch: Even if such a directorial decision sets Gyllenhaal up for a rather chaotic and illegible narrative structure, Colman and Buckley’s proficiency at playing expansive female characters in a rut prolonged the film’s emotive after-effects.
The Wrap: For her part, Colman is absolutely fantastic: Even when Leda is sitting still, Colman’s body language, posture and facial expressions deliver worlds of emotions. The way her eyes observe Nina — empathetic, questioning, mixed with a bit of longing — is magnificent. There are no empty moments in the film; even some look or movement on the screen that might at first seem like a throwaway moment (particularly anything pertaining to the missing doll) gives way to a slow unravelling of the scene that pulls in the viewer.
The Guardian: When Hurricane Colman blows in from the sea, be sure your roof’s in good shape and that all the windows are fastened.
ScreenDaily: Even by Colman’s high standards, this is a richly complex performance. Awards notice seems likely.
Telegraph: Written and directed by the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, it’s a worthy adaptation – murkily funny, shiveringly intimate drama of the deranging impossibility of the “good mother” figure, with a trio of outstanding performances from Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson.
Variety: First a little girl goes missing, then her doll, in “The Lost Daughter,” a daring psychological drama in which what should have been an idyllic summer vacation on the Greek island of Spetses instead becomes a kind of overdue emotional workout for Olivia Colman’s character, Leda, who collapses on the beach, bleeding from her abdomen in the opening scene. How these two disappearances might build to such a dire fate is one of the film’s mysteries, though more compelling is why this woman reacts to the incidents as she does, shocked into confronting her own conduct as a wife and parent many years earlier.
IndieWire: The performance in question, it will surprise no one who’s been to the movies in the last five years to hear, is given by Olivia Colman, on whom so many superlatives have already been rightly showered that it’s genuinely hard to think of one that doesn’t sound like a cliché. But her Leda is something quite extraordinary even within her already extraordinary catalogue: it’s difficult to imagine that anyone else would be able to take this impossible role, in all its unlikeliness and unlikeability, in all its witchy unpredictability and completely staid normalcy and make it seem not only plausible but more real for all its contradictions.
Deadline: Colman (The Favourite, The Crown, The Father) is given as rich an opportunity as she has ever had, and perhaps her most complex and, in a way, heartbreaking performance since 2011’s Tyrannosaur.
Deadline: There can be no question that Olivia Colman is heading for yet another Oscar nomination for her tour de force turn in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s superb directorial debut, The Lost Daughter. You can take that to the bank.
The Playlist: And when she meditatively concludes the tragic tale with a few drops of blood and a generous spray of salty Mediterranean breeze, “The Lost Daughter” leaves you haunted, shaken, and crushingly scarred like only the best of films are capable of doing.
The Hollywood Reporter: The reclusive Italian author’s familiar themes of female relationships, sexuality, motherhood and women’s struggle to carve a professional space outside it are beautifully served in this uncompromising character study, illuminated by performances of jagged brilliance from Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley as her younger self.
The Times: Colman plays Leda, a middle-aged academic on holiday on a remote Greek island (shooting location: Spetses). She is by turns brittle, aloof, eccentric, vulnerable and ever so slightly unhinged. The genius of Colman’s performance is that she plays all these facets (sometimes in the same scene) while remaining inherently sympathetic in a movie that gamely tackles the taboo of the mother who rejects motherhood.
Little White Lies: The always-excellent Colman proves her versatility anew by acting in a mode not seen before in her back-catalogue. Under Gyllenhaal’s direction, the sweetness that radiates from her face, voice and energy are undercut by a calculated sense of animal selfishness that swings between impressive and excessive.
Dirty Movies: Colman is truly astounding. Olivia Colman can do things with an expression, can suggest such complexity of character, emotion and thought that now Daniel Day-Lewis has retired make her the greatest living British actor. Hell, even if he hasn’t retired, it would still be true. She can suggest depths of pain in a broken smile and utter joy in a laugh. But while we’re at it let’s not detract from Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut.
Time: Colman gives a marvellous performance, as a woman well into middle age whose spiky edge hasn’t been, and probably never will be, completely smoothed: she’s a mix of nettles and swan’s down, and you never know what you’re going to get. By the movie’s end, you feel you’ve come to know a complex and wholly believable human being.
Financial Times: Colman deploying the full range of her mesmerising power and fragility. Casting Jessie Buckley as the young Leda proves to be a masterstroke, the actress excelling once again and uncannily capturing some of the Colman mannerisms. Both women would be well deserving of acting awards.
The Skinny: Gyllenhaal’s eye is extraordinarily perceptive, the camera almost indecently intimate in its attention to the unhappy puckers of Colman’s mouth, to the heady sensuality – hands pressed in underwear, creased bedsheets – of frustrated desire. Colman is unsurprisingly excellent, but Jessie Buckley as Leda’s younger self is mesmerising, punctuating the middle-aged Leda’s peace with ghostly keenness. Gyllenhaal’s fragmentary and unpredictable use of flashback devastates, as longing and regret collapse temporalities and undercurrents of decay break surface in the hot air.
INews: An excellent, embodied turn from Olivia Colman is no huge surprise these days, but she is particularly magnetic here, in a part that leaves room for interpretation. She’s over 40, and utterly a sexual being; she grapples with ageing and regret but has a complete sense of self.
Insider: You don’t watch this film wanting to root for Leda but you don’t want her to suffer either. Instead, the film conjures what I believe to be the most powerful emotion cinema can evoke: empathy. You empathize with Leda’s desire to succeed, her reluctance to settle, and, in theory, her decision to abandon her family because these are all emotions we have felt at some point in our lives. It is only in Hollywood cinema that these complexities are regularly sidelined for easy conclusions.
Next Best Picture: Colman is, frankly, incredible. She brings Leda to staggering life while maintaining some of her trademark, real-life charm in a way that only further fleshes out the character. Colman can play someone wishing to brush off and look away from difficult emotions better than anyone. The command of her expressions and externalization of inner tribulations is masterful. She has such a huge smile that she constantly flashes while insisting, despite what other characters might say, that she’s fine. But her wildly expressive eyes betray what Leda is really feeling. She’s in nearly every scene, and she manages to find variety in all of them. It’s a truly incandescent, stunning performance. Johnson is also wonderful as the new parent to whom Leda finds herself strangely drawn. She truthfully portrays a frustrated young mother who’s having trouble seeing past her current parenting difficulties.
New York Times: Gyllenhaal’s frighteningly accomplished first film actually gives us two intricate performances of the same character, and though the actresses do not physically resemble each other, there is something deeply persuasive in the dovetailing continuity of gesture and body language that Colman and Buckley achieve. And you do not have to be a mother — or even a woman — to relate to Leda’s contradictions, and to find unsettling recognition in a sly tale of painful — from some angles monstrously selfish — decisions that induce everlasting guilt but that can never be wholly regretted.
The Film Stage: But there’s one sequence late in the film worth highlighting that encapsulates the film’s concerns in a strange digression from the main story. In a moment uncannily perceptive about what’s it’s like to be in a foreign country, looking for something new to do on one of your evenings there, Leda sits in a beer garden showing a 50s Hollywood melodrama, palely projected onto a sheet. She sits with her lager glass as a mob of teenage boys gatecrash the screening, plonk themselves down in the front row, and proceed to jeer at the screen, and upturn the ad-hoc deck chair seating. Colman goes to complain to an usher and gets stonewalled, to which she can only laugh. This sequence is in the book also, but Gyllenhaal is able to better express how it uncovers Leda’s fear, and maybe jealousy, of younger people, her relationship to them in light of her own wants, biases, and desires.
HeyUGuys: The Lost Daughter, a character and vibes-centric drama grounded by the wonderful performances of Colman…
One Room with A Review: Olivia Colman is so gripping in the lead role of Leda Caruso it’s hard to take your eyes off her. Most of her ‘action’ involves wandering around a Greek beach or seething in her apartment, but she makes every moment compelling.
Decider: The way Colman exquisitely coils her character’s repressed longing, beguilingly visualized by the fluid camerawork of Hélène Louvart and intricately woven by the latticework editing of Affonso Gonçalves, leads to anticipation as to where it will finally unleash… The Lost Daughter never tries to fit Leda into a reductive “bad mother” or anti-hero framework. A person can do strange, even reprehensible, things and not have those define their character. Leda finds parenting a choking collar to wear, and Gyllenhaal assiduously refuses to soften the edges of that pain and frustration.